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Court orders Omuthiya CEO reinstatement

2024-02-09  Eveline de Klerk

Court orders Omuthiya CEO reinstatement

THE Oshakati High Court has ordered the Omuthiya Town Council to reinstate its chief executive officer Steven Mbango.

In a ruling last week, judge David Munsu ordered the town council to reinstate Mbango for an extended period of five years starting from 1 September 2019 to 31 August 2024, and also reimburse him starting from 1 September 2019 until the time he resumes office.

Munsu further ordered that if the town council is unable to reinstate Mbango because someone has been appointed in the position, it must compensate him with an amount that restores him to the position he would have held if his employment had not been unlawfully terminated.

Mbango was on a five-year contract which expired 31 August 2019.

Council took a unilateral decision not to renew his contract at the time.

Thus, he was issued with a termination notice on 10 June, something he disputed as a contravention of his employment contract that required a three-month’s notice. 

As a result, Mbango took the council to court for unfair dismissal.

Munsu ruled that the council failed to comply with statutory requirements outlined in Section 27(3)(b) of the Local Authorities Act, 1992 of informing the CEO at least three months before the expiration of his contract and about their intention to either retain him for an extended term or not.

The court concurred with Mbango’s assertions on the deficiencies in the notice served to him by the council.

The court further ruled that the defective notice did not meet the legal standards outlined in the act, deeming Mbango’s contract tacitly extended due to the council’s failure to provide proper notice.

The court further found the notice given to Mbango defective in three respects: firstly, it was not backed up by a valid council resolution; secondly, it was not given to him at least three calendar months before the expiry of his contract; and thirdly, it did not inform him of whether or not his services would be retained.

Munsu said he was not convinced that it was proved that the decision by the council not to renew Mbango’s employment contract was preceded by a valid council meeting.

According to him, the council further blamed Mbango for not making a written submission to the council in terms of the provisions dealing with stipulating that the chief executive officer must notify the council in writing on the agenda of the next meeting of the local authority council if the council fails to notify him or her three calendar months before the contract’s expiration about its intention to retain him or her for an extended term or not.

“The appellant (Mbango) could not have been clearer on this issue. He indicated that the council had a calendar for meetings. He also knew when the next meeting was scheduled, and that he planned to submit. However, before that could happen, he was served with the notice. Thus, the issue is not that he did not receive notice; rather, it is that the notice he received did not comply with the law,” the judge stated in his ruling.

2024-02-09  Eveline de Klerk

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