THE Health Professions Council of Zambia (HPCZ) has asked the Lusaka High Court to throw out the matter in which Dr Aaron Mjajati has sued it for terminating his contract and demanding terminal benefits of over K2 million. Dr Mjajati, former chief executive officer of the HPCZ, is seeking an order for payment of his full benefits amounting to K2,690, 458.56 as provided for under the employment contract including the payment of full gratuity for the full term of the contract at the harmonised rate of 100 per cent of the remuneration as provided for by the public service management division circular No. B2 of 2019, which his entitled to.
In its summons to determine a matter on a point of law pursuant to Order 14a Rule 1 of the Rules of the Supreme Court, the HPCZ stated that it had been wrongly sued and that Dr Mujajati’s case lacked a cause. Bwembya Bwalya, HPCZ acting registrar stated that Dr Mujajati was at all times under the employment of the civil service commission. He said Dr Mujajati did not apply to be placed on secondment so as to enable him take up his new position with the HPCZ. Dr Bwalya Bwalya averred that the secondment was approved and Dr Mujajati was recalled from his secondment by the Ministry of Health.
“The decision by the Ministry of Health resulted in the frustration of the plaintiff’s contract with the defendant thereby rendering the contract of employment incapable of execution by the plaintiff,” Bwalya stated.
He stated that the cause of action arose due to a statement made by the Minister of Health, Dr Chitalu Chilufya. Dr Bwalya said the actions of HPCZ were influenced by the decision of the Ministry of Health conveying the directives from the Civil Service Commission. He said Dr Mujajati does not represent the Attorney General nor does HPCZ report to the Minister of Health.
“I have read the amended statement of claim by the plaintiff and I am at pains to see the cause of action against the defendants,” Dr Bwalya said.
He stated that the proceedings were a nullity and an abuse of the court process. He stated that HPCZ paid Dr Mujajati his gratuity for the period he served and that they do not owe him anything. HPCZ contended that to claim gratuity for a period not worked for would amount to unjust enrichment and an abuse of the process of court and that Dr Mujajati was not entitled to any reliefs being sought.
“The defendant cannot be sued for the actions of the Minister of Health and that he [Dr Mujajati] has already sued the minister and the proceedings amount to multiplicity and duplicity of proceedings and the courts disapprove of litigants commencing several proceedings over the same dispute or subject matter,” Dr Bwalya stated.
He stated that the matter should have been commenced in the Industrial Relations Division as it was a labour related matter. He further prayed that the matter be dismissed for not only being a multiplicity of proceedings and abuse of process but also for being wrongly commenced and also for being commenced in a wrong court. Dr Bwalya added that the dismissal of the proceedings would not prejudice Dr Mujajati as he had already commenced proceedings against the correct defendants over the same subject matter in the same High Court of the same jurisdiction.
“In light of the proceedings, I crave that the matter be dismissed with costs,” said Dr Bwalya.
In this matter, Dr Mujajati wants an order for payment of his salaries for the remainder of the term in the sum of ZMW801,219.35 from May 2019 to October 1, 2020. He also wants an order to allow him to purchase, at netbook value, the personal to order vehicle he was driving, and an order for payment by of his leave days. Dr Mujajati is further seeking damages for loss, inconvenience and mental stress.
He wants interests at the commercial bank lending rate on the amount found to be due, costs and any other relief that the court may deem fit.