The Industrial Relations Court (IRC) has stopped a disciplinary hearing which the National Economic Empowerment Fund Ltd board (Neef) – formerly Medef – had set for its four top managers on Tuesday.
Neef board had summoned its suspended chief executive officer Mervis Mangulenje, Head of Finance Hilarious Nampota, Head of Credit Edwin Visabwe and Head of Operations Alexon Mwakhula to a disciplinary action on December 23 following an audit at the institution and their subsequent suspension.
The four are not comfortable to appear before the disciplinary hearing panel because among others they fear the panel is meant to rubber stamp President Lazarus Chakwera’s announcement that there would be new management at Neef.
The four also argue that the current board of directors at the institution is illegal because it does not meet the threshold prescribed in section 11 (1) of the Gender Equality Act which prescribes thresholds when it comes to appointments to public office based on gender.
The four argue that the Registrar has not approved the directors before appointment according to section 26 (1) (c) of the Microfinance Act.
They further argue that the chair of the board is conflicted as he is also a director of another microfinance institution.
“At this juncture, it is premature to say whether the issues as raised by the applicants are valid, but on the face of them they are worthy canvassing before the disciplinary hearing takes place.
“In that vein the respondent is hereby restrained from conducting the disciplinary hearing scheduled for tomorrow until we resolve the issues above,” reads the injunction given by IRC Acting Deputy Chairperson Innocent Nebi dated December 22, 2020.
Nebi noted that the hearing was ill-timed and questioned if the suspended officers will be accorded a fair hearing.
He noted that the applicants haven’t been given adequate time to prepare for their case and that the hearing may become a rubber stamping opportunity by the board.
“I have carefully considered the applicants’ concerns, the concern about the President’s speech much as it may have a bearing on the case, it has no legal effect on this case as the applicants were not appointed by the President.
“The President is not privy to the employment contract between the board of the respondent and the applicants,” said Nebi.
The court has therefore set aside January 7, 2021 as the date where both parties will be heard.
Already government appointed deputy director of planning in the Ministry of Information Humphrey Mdyetseni as acting CEO for Neef.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :