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Lupane State University ordered to reinstate dean

by Staff reporter
23 May 2012 at 07:05hrs | 2396 Views
SENIOR Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nicholas Ndou has ordered Lupane State University (LSU) to reinstate the suspended Dean of Studies, Ms Karren Dube, to her post with all the benefits accruing to that position, The Chronicle reported.

Confirming a provisional order granted to Ms Dube last week on Thursday, Justice Ndou declared the suspension from her position in a letter written  by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Maclean Bhala, on 29 February this year, as null and void.

He further ordered LSU, which is the 1st Respondent  in the Urgent Chamber application and Dr Bhala,  the 2nd, to bear the costs of the application.

According to Ms Dube's founding affidavit filed by her lawyer, Ms Nikiwe Ncube, of Webb Low and Barry Incorporating Ben Baron and Partners, she was hired on 8 May 2009 to fill a position as a lecturer in the Department of Developmental Studies.

On 9 February 2010 she was appointed Dean of Studies and the position came with benefits of an improved salary and other substantial benefits, which she had not been privy to as a lecturer.

On 29 February this year, she was served with a letter of suspension by the office of the Vice- Chancellor and the letter purported that she had to refrain from responsibilities as Dean of Studies and could no longer enjoy all the benefits that accompanied that position.

"Despite the suspension, I retained my employment with Lupane State University as a lecturer in the Department of Developmental Studies. The  letter of suspension did not contain specific reasons for suspension, therefore making it impossible for me to respond to any of the Vice-Chancellor's allegations.

"On 2 March this year, I received a further letter from the 2nd Respondent notifying me that in terms of Clause 4.6 of Ordinance 23, I had 14 days in which to seek recourse from the University Council. He said the 14 days were commencing from the effective date of the suspension," she wrote.

It is her contention that according to Regulation 6 (2) of the Labour (National Employment Code of Conduct) Regulations 2006, upon serving an employee with a suspension letter, the employer shall within 14 working days investigate the matter and conduct a hearing into the alleged misconduct of the employee.

She said she had not received any notification of termination of employment and reserved the right to appeal to the University Council within 14 days of termination.

"No hearing has been held and I submit that the suspension can only be valid if it is pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing. The suspension exists in perpetuity and is effective for an indefinite period," said Ms Dube.

She says after her suspension as Dean of Studies, she was removed from the office in which she had been working and was not provided with an alternative office despite the fact that she is still an employee of the 1st Respondent.

Ms Dube said she was forced to consult with students in her motor vehicle, adding that this was humiliating and demeaning to her status as a lecturer within the institution.

According to the suspension letter from the vice-chancellor's office and dated 17 February 2012, the suspension was due to irreparable breakdown in communication between Ms Dube and the Vice-Chancellor.

"I have decided to suspend you from the responsibilities of  Deanship forthwith pending the final outcome of a decision of the University Council as read from Clause 4.5 Article 4.5.2 of Ordinance 23 which serves as your contract with the university," reads part of the letter.

The respondents did not respond to the urgent chamber application which prompted Ms Dube to seek a confirmation of a provisional order which had been granted on 13 April this year," read the latter.

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