The Lusaka High Court yesterday rejected an application for judicial review applied for by three former Road Traffic and Safety Agency (RTSA) directors who were retired in national interest last year.
Martin Mbangu, former deputy director of Safety, Frank Munthali, head of internal audit and risk management and Cytone Kibela, former head, Information and Communication Technology, who were in May 2013 retired by the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication.
The trio filed an application for judicial review in the Lusaka High Court seeking to reverse the action against them.
Presiding over the matter, Judge Mungeni Mulenga declined to grant leave for judicial review because the issues of employment which the trio applied for generally fell under private law which could be pursued through other actions or means.
Judge Mulenga said she had also considered the fact that the decision complained against was made on May 21, 2013 thereby making the proceedings for judicial review undue delay.
She further stated that judicial review proceedings were a challenge on the decision making processes of public bodies or offices and were not concerned with the merits of the decisions as they were not appeal proceedings
However, she encouraged Mr Mbangu, Mr Kibela and Mr Munthali to be at liberty to commence proceedings by way of writ of summons.
The brief facts of this case as stated in the affidavit verifying facts are that the applicants had three years contracts renewed on September 3,2012 but were terminated or retired in national interest by the then Minister of transport Christopher Yaluma on May 21,2013.
At that time, there was apparently no board in place at RTSA.
The trio made appeals to the Minister, Secretary to the Cabinet and Works and Supply permanent secretary but to no avail.
The last response from the permanent secretary of Works and Supply was on May 6, 2014 were it was stated that the applicants were paid full gratuity for the entire contract period, leave days and three months in lieu of notice and the position had since been filled .
At the hearing, counsel submitted that the Minister had made a decision to terminate the employment of Mr Mbangu, Mr Kibela and Mr Munthali when there was no provision giving him powers to do so as the applicants were employed under a contract.
The application was to challenge Mr Yaluma as the public body who acted outside his jurisdiction.
In their submissions, Mr Mbangu, Mr Kibela and Mr Munthali were challenging the decision of the ministry to retire them in national interest stating that the action was unreasonable, irrational and was made without justifiable grounds. They argued that the decision was illegal and ultra-vires as there was no provision either in the Road Traffic Act number 11 of 2002, in their contracts of employment and conditions of service providing for their terminations of employment.
Mr Mbangu, Mr Munthali and Mr Kibela said the decision by the minister to retire them was illegal as it undermined the freedom of contract of employment between the appointing authority RTSA, and them which contract could only be terminated by the parties to the contract and not the minister. They wanted the court to declare the decision by Government as null and void because the minister had no authority to terminate their contracts of service.
Mr Mbangu said in an affidavit relied on an application for leave to apply for judicial review that the three were employed by RTSA on various dates. They said that their contracts were supposed to run for a period of three years but were retired in national interest on May 21, 2013.
He said to date no reasons have been availed over their retirements.