Saturday, May 8, 2021

Judge rebukes BMC acting CEO’s irrational, unlawful conduct

Justice Annah Mathiba has described the Botswana Meat Commission acting chief executive officer (CEO) Dr Boitumelo Mogome-Maseko’s conduct in firing former Executive Human Resources (HR) Manager as irrational and unlawful.

According to industrial Court judgment, the former Executive HR Manager Ruth Ditsapelo Makati was fired from work by BMC’s acting head honcho without being afforded a hearing.

Makati’s contract was terminated with notice on November 2019 some months after Maseko was accelerated to the position of acting CEO.

The HR manager in turn sued BMC for unlawful dismissal.

When delivering Judgment, Industrial Court, Justice Annah Mathiba ruled in favour of Makati and ordered the BMC to pay her P103 041.00 compensation for a period of 14 months payable before 19 February 2021.

“The dismissal was clearly unlawful and to the respondent’s advantage, they did not argue this one and with that there is no evidence showing the respondent (BMC) inability to pay compensation,” said judge Mathiba

He said, to the respondent credit, they did not insist on their original defence that the dismissal was lawful.  They did concede the unlawfulness of the dismissal and thereby did not delay completion of the matter.

Judge Mathiba said the court has taken into consideration that Makati has suffered financial loss and continues to suffer the same, in that she cannot afford to pay her mortgage loan and currently stays with her parents.

She is 51 years of age and advanced age diminishes her prospects of finding alternative employment as she would not only be competing against equally able youthful candidates but also against the economy that is slowly being ravaged by Coronavirus.

The judge then ordered for BMC to pay the applicant the sum of 103,041.00 in addition to the three months’ salary already paid as notice payment.  

The background of the matter is that the applicant was employed by the respondent on a 3-year fixed contract. The original contract expired in February 2018 and she was granted a three-year renewal.

According to court records, the employment of the applicant was terminated on notice by the respondent on November 2019 and the applicant challenged the dismissal and wants to be paid compensation equivalent to her 19 months’ salary and this would be equal to the remainder of her fixed term contract.

When delivering judgment on the matter for interdiction on disciplinary hearing against Makati, Judge Ruhukya said the Acting CEO has waited too long in terms of the findings of the court which leads to the conclusions that the respondent (BMC) is deemed to have waived any right to institute disciplinary proceedings against Makati and are interdicted from carrying out any disciplinary hearing as originally scheduled for 11 June 2019.

It is ordered that Makati’s suspension is hereby set aside and allowed to resume her duty fully.

Despite the court Order, two months later the acting CEO terminated Makati’s contract and this has now resulted in the Court again ruling in favour of Makati and ordered BMC to pay her more than P100 000.00(P103 041.00)

Makati was represented by Makati-Mpho of Makati attorneys while BMC was represented by Mboki Chilisa of Chilisa Consultants.

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