Dr Aaron Mujajati has opposed Health Professions Council of Zambia (HPCZ)’s summons for a stay of execution of the Lusaka High Court’s judgment, which ordered the institution to pay him his full benefits as former Registrar, pending its application to set aside the same.
The HPCZ has asked the Court to set aside the interlocutory judgment in default of appearance granted to Dr Mujajati, but the latter has argued that the Council is merely trying to prevent him from enjoying the fruits of his judgment as he believes that it never intended to file a defence in the matter.
In this matter, Dr Mujajati has sued HPCZ in the Lusaka High Court, demanding an order that his termination of employment was unlawful, null and void.
He is also seeking to be paid his full benefits in the sum of K2,690,458.56, salaries for the remainder of his term of office amounting to K801,219.35 and damages for wrongful dismissal.
Dr Mujajati cited HPCZ as first defendant and the Attorney General as second defendant.
On November 20, this year, the Lusaka High Court Deputy Registrar entered judgement in default of appearance and defence in favour of Dr Mujajati and awarded him damages for breach of contract of employment entered into between him and HPCZ and that the same were to be assessed.
He was further awarded damages for unlawful, wrongful and unfair dismissal and an order for payment of his full benefits by HPCZ as provided for under the employment contract, including payment of the full gratuity for the full term of the contract at the harmonized rate of 100 per cent of the total remuneration, being the sum of K2,690,485.56 as provided for by Public Service Management Division circular No. B 2 of 2019, which he was entitled to.
Dr Mujajati was also awarded other claims.
“There being no appearance or defence filed by HPCZ to the Plaintiff’s amended writ of summons and statement of claim, it is hereby adjudged and ordered that the plaintiff be and is, hereby, awarded the following as claimed in the amended writ of summons and statement of claim, an order for the payment of salaries for the remainder of the term in the sum of K801,219.35 from May, 2019, to October 1, 2020, an order to allow the plaintiff to purchase at netbook value, the personal-to-holder vehicle he was driving, damages for loss, inconvenience and mental stress and the same are to be assessed, interest at the commercial bank lending rate on the amounts due and costs for and incidental to these proceedings shall be borne by HPCZ,” read the interlocutory and final judgment in default of appearance and defence signed by the Deputy Registrar.
“And it is further ordered and adjudged that HPCZ be given a moratorium period of seven days from the date of this judgment within which to pay the entire judgement sum, plus interest to which the plaintiff shall be at liberty to execute without further recourse to court.”
But on November 27, HPCZ asked the Court to stay the execution of the judgment, pending its application to set aside the same.
It submitted that it had a valid defence and had prospects of success.
But earlier this month, HPCZ filed an affidavit in support of summons to set aside interlocutory judgment in default.
Bwembya Bornface Bwalya, a registrar at HPCZ, explained that a judgment in default was entered against the Council for improper termination of contract, but added that HPCZ had a valid defence to the said claims made by Dr Mujajati and would like to dispute the claims upon which the judgment was entered.
He stated that Dr Mujajati instituted proceedings against the Council based on a statement made by Minister of Health Dr Chitalu Chilufya in his capacity as a Cabinet Minister.
Bwalya further stated that he was aware that there was already another set of proceedings regarding the same issues of facts under cause number 2019/HP/0787 instituted by Dr Mujajati.
He stated that the actions by Dr Mujajati constituted an abuse of court process.
“I am advised by my advocates that the Courts frown on duplicity and multiplicity of actions as it may cause embarrassment to the courts to make different judgments on same facts. HPCZ reiterates that the contract between the plaintiff (Dr Mujajati) and Health Professions Council of Zambia was frustrated when the plaintiff was recalled from his secondment by the Civil Service Commission,” Bwalya stated.
He stated that Dr Mujajati was paid all sums of money due to him by HPCZ after their contract was frustrated.
Bwalya prayed that the interlocutory judgment in default be set aside, stating that the matter would not have been determined on its merits.
He added that no prejudice would be occasioned against Dr Mujajati should HPCZ be allowed to defend the claims.
But according to an affidavit in opposition to summons for stay of execution, pending application to set aside interlocutory judgment filed, December 5, Dr Mujajati stated that this was not a proper matter in which the Court should exercise its discretion to confirm the stay of execution or to set aside the interlocutory and final judgment.
He argued that HPCZ was merely trying to prevent him from enjoying the fruits of his judgment as he believed that the Council never intended to file a defence in the matter.
“Further and contrary to HPCZ’s assertion, I will be greatly prejudiced if the stay of execution is granted as I will be prevented from enjoying the fruits of my judgment. I am advised by my advocates and verily believe it to be true that HPCZ did not adhere to the rules of the Court in so far as filing a defence is concerned in this matter,” stated Dr Mujajati.
In another matter, Dr Mujajati has sued the Attorney General and Health Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya, seeking damages for defamation of character after the latter allegedly accused him of being irrational and inhumane for closing down health institutions on “flimsy grounds”.