Broadcaster Albert Mungomo has obtained an injunction stopping taxpayer-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) from effecting a demotion on the post of director of programmes he held until last week.
The veteran presenter secured the temporary relief from the High Court in Blantyre on Thursday. The court order also stops MBC from reverting him to his previous position as chief training officer (CTO).
MBC board of directors, at its November 16 2015 meeting, confirmed new appointments that, among others, saw Mungomo being replaced by journalist Mzati Nkolokosa as acting director of programmes.
Private practice lawyer Frank Mbeta, who is representing Mungomo, confirmed in an interview on Sunday that the injunction was granted by judge Kenyatta Nyirenda and served on MBC board the following day.
He said: “This means that the board cannot effect the issue of demoting him until the court has heard the complaint he has. So, Mr Mungomo still remains on the same position as director of programmes and enjoys the same benefits until the court determines.”
Mungomo originally took the matter to the Industrial Relations Court (IRC) asking it to make a determination that the MBC board decision was tantamount to unfair labour practices; hence, the decision should be rescinded.
Said Mbeta: “The board wanted its decision effected immediately and called most of the benefits attached to that particular position. That was when we thought of getting an injunction, but the IRC could not grant that injunction because of the jurisdiction issue, so it referred the matter to the High Court where ruling was made. The court is expected to assign a judge for the intra-parte hearing of the injunction.
“So, the only issue that is in High Court is the injunction part. But the substantive hearing of the matter will be done in the IRC because it is essentially a labour matter.”
MBC board chairperson Moffat Banda on Sunday confirmed in an interview that the board was served with the injunction, but declined to be drawn into commenting “because the matter is now in court”.
He said: “Yes, we have received that injunction, but I can’t say much other than waiting to hear from them what they feel was an anomaly in our decision because what we did was a normal process taking place between the employer on one hand and the employee on the other hand.”
However, Banda told The Nation last week that Mungomo was not demoted as claimed, but just reverted to his original position as CTO.
“He was given the position on probation of six months and upon completion and satisfying management and the board, he was going to be confirmed as director of programmes. But after an appraisal, he did not satisfy, so he was reverted to his position,” Banda told The Nation on November 30, 2015.
In court, Mungomo’s argument is that MBC human resources and administration sub-committee conducted an appraisal and recommended his confirmation together with other directors after they passed and were deemed suitable for the positions.
However, his lawyer told The Nation, when the full board convened, it gave Mungomo a demotion letter. n