IN THE INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS COURT OF MALAWI
MATTER NO. 9 OF 2002
EPHRAIM TCHAUYA .. APPLICANT
MR. ZAIRE ... ..RESPONDENT
CORAM: HON. M.C.C. MKANDAWIRE, CHAIRMAN
Davie Mpakani Official Interpreter
J U D G M E N T
Matters in Issue : Withholding wages.
Survey of Evidence:
This matter was commenced by the Applicant Mr. Ephraim Tchauya against the Respondent Mr. Zaire on a trade dispute of withholding wages. The facts of the matter are that the Respondent had employed the applicant to perform a specific task i.e. to do landscaping at his house at a total cost of K25,000:00. The applicant indeed commenced the work in November, 2001. According to the applicant, he did the work very well and on several occasions, he was given payments by instalments up to the tune of K20,000:00. At a later stage, there was a disagreement between him and the respondents grandmother. The grandmother was restricting him on the use of the water to maintain the grass which had just been planted. She used to complain that the bill would be so high. As a result of this, the grass could not grow well and the surface became very rough. This did not at all please the respondent and as such, a heavy disagreement arose whereby the respondent said that he would not pay the balance of K5,000:00 since the landscaping was not well done. On his part, the respondent told the Court that he was not at all impressed with the work done by the applicant. Although he was claiming to be a landscaper, his work was below standards. For example, he did not purchase the flowers. He did not apply the topsoil as he had promised. The work done is very substandard and this led him to withhold the balance of K5,000:00.
Analysis of Evidence
I found that this case was more on pure contractual side than employment as the parties would love this Court to believe. However, I have entertained it because the evidence was at one point disclosing as if it was contract of employment for a specified task. Looking at the events that unfolded herein, it is clear that whenever the applicant used to request for payments, the respondent kept on releasing the cash. He did that on several occasion up to the point when the applicant had collected a total of K20,000:00 out of the K25,000:00. Thus 80% of the money has already been paid. The respondent was on the spot. He could see the type of work that the applicant was doing. If indeed the work was sub-standard, there is no way the respondent could have been paying the cash whenever the applicant was requesting for it. I take it that he kept on paying the applicant because he was impressed with the work done. I therefore find that the applicant is entitled to the last instalment.
I order that the respondent should pay the remaining K5,000:00 immediately and that it should be paid through the Court.
DELIVERED this 22nd day of July 2001 at Lilongwe.