[Opposed Application HH 835-16]

November 7, 2016


Arbitration – Arbitral award – Registration of an arbitral award – Conversion of arbitral award from Zimbabwean dollars to United States dollars – Arbitrary conversion by applicant not permitted – Whether High Court may convert award – Conversion is by appropriate authority in terms of the award.

Held, that the High Court can only register an award in the form in which it was granted. It cannot, before registration, convert the award from its original form. The issue of deciding on the rate of conversion or the conversion itself is for the appropriate authority in terms of the award. Nor is the applicant permitted to convert the award on his or her or its own.

Case cited:

Nyakamha v Lobels Bread (Pvt) Ltd HC 3887/08, referred to

Legislation considered:

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (Demonetisation of Notes and Coins) Notice, 2015 (SI 70 of 2015)

Applicant in person

KT Madzetse, for the first respondent

No appearance, for the second respondent


On 7 November 2016, I dismissed the applicant’s application for conversion of an arbitral award from Zimbabwe dollars to United States dollars. I gave my reasons for the decision at the time. The applicant has now asked for the written reasons despite having conceded that his application cannot succeed in its present form.

The background to this case makes sad reading. The applicant has been battling with his former employer, the respondent, since 2001 when allegations of misconduct were levelled against him. In Nyakamha v Lobels Bread (Pvt) Ltd HC 3887/08 MAKARAU JP (as she then was) had this to say on the applicant’s plight:

“The applicant in this matter may well be justified in believing that the law is indeed an ass. He has been battling with his former employers since May 2001 when certain alleged acts of misconduct were levelled against him, leading to his suspension from employment. He has been to a number of labour officials, the Labour Court, before two independent arbitrators before he appeared before me on 11 February 2009. Due to certain procedural irregularities attendant upon his application before me, I had to dismiss his application on the turn.”

A myriad of problems with the applicant’s case were alluded to in that case. Since then the applicant has again been before the labour court where his application for another quantification of the award was dismissed on 8 August 2011. In dismissing the application, the Labour Court judge stated, inter alia, that:

“Chavura’s award upon which this application is based was by consent and quantified by arbitrator Lucas on 21 January 2008 and that award still stands.”

As that award was in Zimbabwe dollars efforts to have it converted to United States dollars by an arbitrator failed and so applicant approached this Court for the registration of the award in United States dollars. He had apparently converted the award to United States dollars arbitrarily. That application in HH 104-14 was duly dismissed by Mtshiya J.

Dissatisfied with the dismissal, the applicant appealed to the Supreme Court against the dismissal. That appeal was dismissed.

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