The labour court has ruled that Zimpapers should pay Z$10 billion (R770 thousand) to the president of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, Mathew Takaona, writes Gugu Ziyaphapha.

The arbitrator ordered the government-owned newspaper company which publishes The Sunday Mail to pay Takaona the inflation-adjusted amount as compensation for unlawfully dismissing him two years ago.

Takaona, then the paper’s acting news editor was fired after addressing journalists from the banned Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday.

He did so in his capacity as ZUJ President but Zimpapers said he made statements at the meeting that were inconsistent with Zimpapers’ interests.

He said: “I have the duty to express solidarity with all journalists in trouble and to guide, lead and fight for their rights within the parameters of the law. I have done no less, no more."

He was summarily dismissed without a disciplinary hearing, despite the provisions of the paper’s code of conduct.

The ZUJ president also wanted the court to have him reinstated but Zimpapers said that was no longer possible. Zimpapers is appealing against the judgment of having the amount

 In papers, the group said the decision by the arbitrator would have "the absurd effect of having Mr Takaona as the only known worker over the past two years whose earnings actually matched inflation".

Meanwhile, lawyers representing the banned Daily News and its Sunday title have requested the high court to set a date for their application to be deemed licensed.

Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), publishers of the two papers, is accusing the government of dragging its feet over its registration.

ANZ cited the late Information minister, Dr Tichaona Jokonya, as the first respondent and the Media and Information Commission Chairperson, Dr Tafataona Mahoso, as the second respondent.

Lawyer Mordecai Mahlangu said the death of Jokonya would not affect their court challenge since the government will appoint an acting minister.

Jokonya and Mahoso filed arguments opposing the registration of the two papers, saying the court did not have the right to declare the papers licensed.

The MIC term of office expired last month, but deputy information minister Bright Matongo said Mahoso and his team had done a good job, an indication that their term of office may be extended.


Wednesday, 28 June, 2006