Meteorologist takes Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality to court

22 Oct, 2021 - 17:10 0 Views
Meteorologist takes Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality to court

The Chronicle

Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter

A Bulawayo based meteorologist stationed at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport on suspension for allegedly failing to issue a flight folder to a local airline in violation of the aviation operation procedures has approached the High Court challenging his employer’s decision.

Mr Stephen Manyaira, a senior meteorological officer at JMN International Airport, was last month suspended without pay by the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry for three months pending investigations and disciplinary proceedings in terms of section 44 of the Public Service Regulations of 2000.

Mr Manyaira through his lawyers Masawi and Partners, filed an application for review at the Bulawayo High Court citing Environment, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Mr Munesu Munodawafa and the Public Service Commission (PSC) as respondents.

In terms of the suspension letter dated September 16, 2021, Mr Manyaira is not supposed to report for work or leave the country without the permission of the disciplinary authority until December 17, 2021.

Mr Manyaira’s suspension follows a complaint by Fastjet Airline, which accused him of negligence when he allegedly failed to issue the company with a flight folder.

“In view of the above, you are hereby suspended from work for a period of three months pending investigations and disciplinary proceedings which shall be constituted forthwith in terms of section 44 of the Public Service Regulations of 2000. The suspension which is in terms of section 48 (1) (a), (b) and (e) is with effect from 17 September 2021 to 17 December 2021,” read part of the letter.

The letter stated that Mr Manyaira’s actions tainted the image of the tourism sector.

In his founding affidavit, Mr Manyaira said the decision by his employer was characterised by procedural improprieties and gross irregularities.

“The first respondent (Mr Munodawafa) acting in terms of section 48 of the Public Service Regulations suspended me relying on the grounds that my continued presence at work would lead to a loss of public confidence in the public service,” he said.

Mr Manyaira argued that in terms of section 49 (2) of the Public Service Regulations, he is entitled to at least a monthly allowance equivalent to half his gross salary.

“On 29 September, I appealed against the suspension in terms of section 51 of the Public Service Regulations by requesting the Commission in writing to review the penalty.  I also queried why the first respondent (Mr Munodawafa) had suspended me without pay notwithstanding the fact that the allegations against me did not allege any financial prejudice to the Government,” he said.

“Moreover, I believe that the principles of natural justice, in particular, the right to be heard was not given due regard. In the present case, I believe that the first respondent did not take into consideration my 20 year-long service with the ministry, my level of seniority, age as well as my personal situation as the sole provider of my family.’

Mr Manyaira further argued that his boss failed to clearly specify to him the reasons behind his suspension without pay.

He said his duties, which include forecasting, analysing different models and raw data of various atmospheric conditions from worldwide web to come up with an informed forecast depend on the availability of internet.

Mr Manyaira however, said the internet at his station was erratic due to problems emanating from the service provider

He wants an order nullifying Mr Munodawafa’s decision with the matter being referred back to the PSC for determination of his appeal in a lawful and procedural manner in accordance with the laid down regulations.

“I therefore humbly submit that it is warranted, just and equitable that in the circumstances this honourable court sets aside the first respondent’s decision and substitute it with its own ruling based on the terms of the draft order,” he said.

The respondents are yet to respond. – @mashnets

 

 

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