The Labour Court has found Youth Enterprise Development Fund board chairman Dr Victor Mwongera guilty of contempt for disobeying an order to suspend the sacking of chief executive officer Josiah Moriasi.
Justice Hellen Wasilwa said Dr Mwongera and the board knowingly defied the order that required them to temporarily suspend the decision to fire him until his case is heard and determined.
“The order made by this court, however difficult it may seem to implement, the Respondents treated the said order casually and even denied Mr Moriasi access to his office amongst other actions. The respondents treated the order contemporary and are therefore liable to being punished,” stated justice Wasilwa.
She said the chairman and board were aware of the order dated May 4, 2020 as they had been served, but instead they chose to block Mr Moriasi’s entry by locking his office and confiscating the keys.
The judge dismissed the chairman’s argument that the order was incapable of being obeyed as at the time of issuance there was no employer–employee relationship between the board and Mr Moriasi.
Trouble began when Mr Moriasi’s contract expired in October last year and was extended by six months. His fixed term contract ended April 30, 2020.
The board then voted to sack Mr Moriasi over claims of poor performance and mismanaging the organisation. He was replaced in an acting capacity by the Fund’s public relations manager Benson Muthendi.
Dr Mwongera had recommended the appointment of Lending and Investments Manager Judy Kimeto to the top job.
Mr Moriasi rushed to court to challenge his sacking, and an order was issued by Justice Wasilwa to maintain the status quo until the case was heard.
However, in his contempt application, Mr Moriasi says that on top of blocking access to his office, the board had taken over possession of his official means of transport.
He was appointed the Youth Fund’s CEO in October 2016 for a three-year period with provision in the contract that the term was subject to renewal for a further three years based on performance.