In a recent ruling by the Industrial Relations Court (IRC) on December 23rd, Deputy Chairperson Mike Kandulu mandated that State House must pay former President Lazarus Chakwera’s spokesperson Brian Banda K103,316,418 for unjust termination of employment.
Additionally, the Times Television presenter has been granted a severance allowance of K1,251,418.50.
Banda was dismissed from his role as press secretary in July 2022 although the State House initially said Banda was leaving his post to pursue further studies in China. He was immediately replaced by journalist and former Blantyre City Council spokesman Anthony Kasunda.
However, Banda commenced a legal action, represented by his lawyer Mauya Msuku, on September 28, 2022, against State House.
The claim sought compensation for constructive dismissal, severance allowance pay and recompense for unfair labor practices.
According to the court documents, the IRC Form 1 was filed on September 28, 2022, and officially served to the respondent on October 26, 2022, at 2:45 pm.
The respondent, in this case, State House, failed to file a reply within the stipulated period by law, leading to the applicant obtaining a default judgment on November 7, 2022. A notice of assessment of compensation was duly issued and served on the respondent on the same day.
Despite the default judgment, the respondent filed a motion to set aside the decision, scheduled to be heard on June 20, 2023.
On the scheduled date, neither the respondent nor their legal representative appeared in court, and no explanation was provided. Consequently, the motion was dismissed.
Following this, the court issued a notice for the hearing of the assessment of compensation trial, which was served on the respondent on August 11, 2023, at 1:50 pm.
The acknowledgment of service was received on behalf of the Attorney General by C. Chitsonga. In response, the Attorney General’s Chambers filed an ex parte motion for a stay of proceedings, pending the hearing of an application to set aside the default judgment.
This motion was slated for August 25, 2023, the same day the court had scheduled the assessment of damages. However, neither the respondent nor the Attorney General’s representative was present in court when the motion was called.
Due to the continued failure of the Attorney General to appear before the courts, the court ordered the commencement of the assessment of damages proceedings.
State House has now been granted a 30-day period to fulfill the court-ordered compensation to Brian Banda.