Supreme Court Reinstates Five soldiers dismissed for “stealing” food rations


The Supreme Court has reinstated five members of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) who had been fired from work for allegedly stealing food rations.

Supreme Court Justices Samuel Kudya, Joseph Musakwa and Susan Mavangira reinstated the five without loss of salaries, reported NewsDay.

The officers were dismissed despite being acquitted by the Court Martial.

The High Court had ordered the ZNA to reinstate Collen Chiba, Charles Mhuri, Bothwell Gorekore, Democracy Murambaroro, and Gibson Madzinga, a ruling which the ZNA appealed at the Supreme Court.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court bench said “A determination that is premised on the violation of a statute is void and of no legal effect”. Added the judges:

The respondents were neither provided with the record of proceedings nor the reasons upon which the decision was made.

They could not, therefore, impugn the correctness of the decision by appealing it.

Rather, they were aggrieved by the decision-making process, which entailed seeking a review…

Where a dismissal is set aside as being a nullity, the employee is reinstated as such notwithstanding the further disciplinary proceedings that the court may order by way of remittal or otherwise.

The respondents have generally succeeded. They are entitled to their costs of appeal, on the ordinary scale.

According to court documents, on August 17, 2017, the respondents were prosecuted but acquitted of theft of State property by General Court Martial.

However, the commander issued a convening order on April 4, 2018, for a board of suitability (BOS) to investigate the theft of rations by the respondents.

The order mandated the board to inquire into and determine the suitability of the respondents to remain as serving members of the army.

It was also directed to obtain documentary proof and a record of each member’s competence and conduct.

The board ruled that the officers were inefficient and unfit to remain in the ZNA.

The lawyers representing the soldiers then requested the record of proceedings from the BOS, but the latter refused.

They then approached the High Court seeking a review of the termination of their employment on the grounds that the determination was “irrational, illegal and unfair.”

The High Court ruled in their favour and ordered that they be reinstated, which prompted the board to approach the Supreme Court arguing that the lower court had erred.

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