Econet Wireless must pay subscriptions to the National Employment Council (NEC) for Communications and Allied Services first for it to be granted audience in the courts where it seeks to challenge the constitutionality of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) compelling employers to register with the NEC in question.
The CBA, published under Statutory Instrument 1 of 2012, compels all employers in the communication industry to register with the NEC for Communications and Allied Services within a month of the publication of the law but Econet did not comply.
Instead, the cellular communications giant contested the certificate of registration of the NEC. Government confirmed that the NEC’s certificate was genuine and that Econet must comply.
In open defiance of the law, Econet did not register with the NEC or pay its union dues protesting that the promulgation of SI 1 of 2012 was irregular and invalid. Econet, through its lawyers Mtetwa and Nyambirai Legal Practitioners, filed a High Court application to nullify the sections of the CBA.
The judge held that the SI in question was already law, which must be complied with until a time when it is nullified. Econet appealed to the Supreme Court.
In a Supreme Court judgment made available this week, Justice Chinembiri Bhunu threw out the appeal. Justice Bhunu, sitting with Justices Vernanda Ziyambi and Paddington Garwe, upheld the High Court decision that the communications firm had approached the courts with dirty hands.
“While Section 69(3) of the Constitution guarantees the appellant’s right to access the courts, it is no licence for it (Econet) to approach the court with hands dripping with dirt. What appellant is being asked to do is to cleanse itself by obeying the prevailing laws of the land before approaching the courts.
“The learned judge in the court a quo did not fall into error in any way by denying the appellant access to the court until it had cleansed itself by complying with and obeying the prevailing laws of the land,” ruled Justice Bhunu.
The court said all questioned laws and administrative Acts enjoy a presumption of validity until declared otherwise by a competent court. The country’s largest mobile network operator was disputing the requirement that it registers and pays subscription to the NEC arguing that the provisions for such demands had either been repealed or did not exist. herald