THE Labour Court has thrown out former Gweru City Council (GCC) town clerk Elizabeth Gwatipedza’s appeal against a disciplinary hearing that resulted in her dismissal in 2019.
Gwatipedza, who had been suspended and charged by GCC, was found guilty of disobeying a lawful order to submit her contract of employment and those of departmental heads to council.
She was also found guilty of gross incompetence for failing to comply with the audit and supervise the finance department.
Gwatipedza was also found guilty of inefficiency after she refused, failed or neglected to ensure that council resolutions were implemented timeously, co-ordinate departments in the workplace, discharge council’s mandate of ensuring service delivery and to generally run council’s affairs.
She then appealed against the disciplinary committee’s decision arguing that she had not disobeyed council by refusing to hand over contracts of employment, noting that her roles were clearly spelt out in the Urban Councils Act.
She also argued that there was no clause in the Act giving the mayor to ask for such.
Gwatipedza also said she had failed to meet audit deadlines because when she was hired, the audit cycle was already behind and there was no head in the finance department or qualified personnel.
However, Gweru Labour Court judge, Justice Betty Chidziva dismissed her application with costs, saying it lacked merit.
She said Gwatipedza disobeyed council orders as cross-examination showed that the mayor (Councillor Josiah Makombe) was acting on a council resolution when demanding her contract of employment and those of other heads of departments.
“The appellant failed to achieve maximum productivity in so far as the audit cycle was concerned. She failed to meet deadlines. The reason she gave for failing to meet deadlines is not satisfactory. The applicant was doing something, but in an inefficient manner,” reads part of the judgment.
“It was the applicant’s duty to properly monitor, administer and control the activities of all council employees as provided by the law. Even if she was not an expert in engineering, procurement or health, she had to discharge her obligations in terms of the Urban Councils Act.
There is no evidence to show that she exercised her supervisory roles as required by the governing Act.”
Justice Chidziva said the matter was a case where an employee wilfully disobeyed a lawful order and was grossly incompetent and inefficient in the performance of her duties.
“In the circumstances, a penalty of dismissal cannot be said to be unreasonable. This court cannot, therefore, interfere with the penalty that was imposed by the employer. The appeal is dismissed,” she said.