ZAMBIA Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary-general Cosmas Mukuka has argued that the outcome of the matter where he is challenging his retirement in national interest has a bearing on the case where he has been sued over his continued occupation in office, hence the two actions should not be separately determined by two different judges.

In this matter, two affiliate unions of ZCTU have lodged a complaint against Mukuka in the Lusaka High Court industrial relations division, seeking an order that the latter is not qualified to hold his said position as he is no longer an employee.

The complainants, who are Levi Chimfwembe, the general secretary of the Mine Contractors, Factors and Allied Workers Union and Chikaiko Phiri, National Union of Technical Lecturers and Allied Workers, are seeking an order that Mukuka is not not qualified to hold the said position pursuant to Section 18 of the Industrial and Labour Relations Act and Article 14(8d) of the constitution of ZCTU as he is no longer an employee.

They also want, among others, an order of interim injunction to restrain Mukuka by his servants, agents or whomsoever from authorising documents, giving instructions, approving payments and other matters connected to or incidental to the operations of ZCTU pending final determination of this matter.

Chimfwembe and Phiri had argued that Mukuka’s employment was terminated by way of retirement in national interest on May 5, 2020 and as such, he was not qualified to continue to hold the position of secretary general in ZCTU.

Chimfwembe and Phiri had also asked the court to transfer their complaint to another judge.

They argued that they were likely to suffer prejudice if their application was not granted as Mukuka kept on referring to the matter where he was challenging his purported retirement in national interest.

But in an affidavit in opposition to an application to transfer the matter to another judge, Mukuka stated that the administrative decision to allocate the two matters under cause numbers IRC/LK/373/2020 and IRC/LK/460/2020 to the same court was premised on the actual fact that they were closely related.

He stated that under cause number IRC/LK/373/2020 he is challenging the validity of the purported retirement in national interest, while cause number IRC/LK/460/2020 related to his continued occupation in office following the purported retirement.

Mukuka stated that the causes of action should not be separately determined by two different judges as the outcome of the matter where he is challenging the purported retirement had a bearing on the other matter where he had been sued for continued occupation in office.

He stated that any attempt to determine the case involving his stay in office would no doubt pre-empt the outcome of the matter where he was challenging the purported retirement in national interest and there was a likelihood of rendering it academic or a possibility of having conflicting judgements or decisions on the same issues.

Mukuka stated there was no prejudice to be occasioned to the complainants by the mere fact that the two causes of actions were before the same court but that the administrative decision to allocate the two matters was to avoid having two conflicting judgements or decisions which could bring the legal profession and administration of justice into disrepute or ridicule.

He added that the application by Chimfwembe and Phiri did not disclose or acknowledge actual bias on the part of the court and there is no evidence of bias whether conscious or a real likelihood of bias to necessitate the recusal of the court and subsequent transfer of the matter to another judge.

Mukuka also urged the court to invoke its inherent jurisdiction and powers and stay the proceedings under cause number IRC/LK/460/2020 pending hearing and determination of the complaint under cause number IRC/LK/373/2020 to avoid the likelihood or possibility of delivering conflicting judgements by the court.