Makame, Omar and Kisanga, JJ.A.: The appellant sued the first respondent, JUMUIYA YA WAFANYAKAZI TANZANIA (JUWATA), for defamation, and in I the same plaint he also sued the second respondent, the Workers Development
MAKAME JJA, OMAR JJA, KISANGA JJA
Corporation (W.D.C) for wrongful termination of his employment. The second A respondent in a counter-claim sued for unrefunded loans which the appellant had obtained from the said respondent with or without authorization. The High Court in which the action was brought dismissed both the claim and the counter-claim and made an order for costs against the appellant. The appellant is now appealing, but the B second respondent has not appealed against the dismissal of its counter-claim.
The facts of the case may be stated briefly as follows: The appellant was employed by the W.D.C. as its general manager. As part of his duties, the appellant prepared and C submitted a report of the W.D.C. and its subsidiary companies at the annual meeting of the general council of JUWATA: it is the general council of JUWATA, consisting of two to three hundred members, which supervises the affairs of the W.D.C. As the appellant was trying to present his report before the general council, members of the council felt D that the report involved certain inadequacies or unsatisfactory matters which made it necessary to appoint a probe team of seven members to examine the report and submit their findings to the general council at its next meeting. After the report of the probe team was prepared it was presented to the Secretary-General of JUWATA who, E however, submitted it, not to the general council as had been directed, but to the Kamati ya Usimamizi ya Baraza Kuu (KUBK) consisting of 20 to 30 members, and also to the Board of Directors of the W.D.C.
Upon receiving the probe report, the KUBK required the appellant to appear before F it to defend himself against allegations made against him in the report and he did so. In addition to the appellant's defence the KUBK also received from the board of directors of the W.D.C. their comments on the probe report. After that the KUBK proceeded to appoint a select committee to scrutinize further the probe report in the light of the G appellant's defence and the comments by the board of directors of the W.D.C., and then report back to the KUBK. The select committee accordingly submitted its report and after discussing and adopting it the KUBK recommended the termination of the appellant's employment; acting on that recommendation, the board of directors of the H W.D.C. accordingly terminated the appellant's employment.
The appellant's claim for defamation was essentially based on the publication of the probe report to the bodies of persons other than that which had ordered or directed such probe. And the basis for his complaint against wrongful termination was that he I was given
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no opportunity to be heard by the body which terminated his employment. A
The trial judge dismissed the appellant's claim for defamation on the ground that the first respondent had the defence of qualified privilege. He dismissed the claim for wrongful termination on the ground that such termination was justified in the light of the B appellant's proved or admitted misconducts.
At the hearing of this appeal the appellant was represented by Mr. Lukwaro while Mr. Muccadam appeared for the respondents. Mr. Lukwaro filed a total of eight grounds of appeal challenging the dismissal of his client's suit by the High Court and the failure by C that Court to award him costs after dismissing the counter-claim by the second respondent.
The learned judge found that the report by the probe team did contain statements which were defamatory of the appellant. When dealing with that issue he said inter alia: D
There is no doubt that some of the publication is defamatory. Matters like adultery imputations and fraud allegations are certainly defamatory.
We are satisfied that this finding was quite justified. There was ample evidence to E support it. However, he misdirected himself by saying that the probe team submitted its report to the general council of JUWATA. For, there was abundant evidence of the appellant and the defence witness, one Mr. Mashashi, that the report by the probe F team was submitted to the KUBK, not to the general council of JUWATA.
As stated earlier, the learned judge found that the first respondent had the defence of qualified privilege available to it. This was so because, in his view, "there was a public G duty to investigate into the activities of the W.D.C. and its general manager". He took the view that once there was that duty then in the absence of any malice, and indeed the appellant conceded the absence of any malice on the part of members of the probe team, the occasion was one of qualified privilege. H
It was established by the evidence that the probe team was appointed by the general council of JUWATA to probe into the affairs of the W.D.C. including those of the appellant as its general manager, and report its findings back to the general council of JUWATA. As already pointed out, however, the report of the probe team was I submitted not to the appointing authority, the general
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council of JUWATA, but to the KUBK. It is quite apparent that the general council A of JUWATA and the KUBK are two different bodies. The former has two to three hundred members while the latter comprises 20 to 30 members only. The two bodies also differ in their functions. The general council of JUWATA supervises the affairs of the W.D.C. while the KUBK is under the general council and deals with matters of Bday-to-day administration.
Where a person raises the defence of qualified privilege on the ground that he had a duty to make the offending statement it must further be shown that the statement was made in good faith and that the person to whom it was made had a corresponding C interest and duty to receive it. Admittedly in the instant case the probe team made the defamatory statements in the performance of the duty imposed on it by the general council of JUWATA, and it was common ground that these statements were made without malice. But the question is: What corresponding interest and duty did the D KUBK have to receive the report? The report was ordered by the general council and was expressly required to be submitted to that body. The circumstances leading to the KUBK receiving the report are not at all apparent. The KUBK was not shown to be the disciplining authority of the appellant, and certainly it was not the authority vested E with the power of appointing or terminating the services of the appellant; on the evidence such powers were vested in the board of directors of the W.D.C. It seems plain, therefore, that the probe report was wrongly published to members of the KUBK when they were not supposed to receive it i.e. when they had no corresponding F interest and duty to receive it, and to that extent the defence of qualified privilege cannot succeed.
As regards the issue of terminating the appellant's employment, there was clear evidence that this was done by the board of directors of W.D.C. The appellant G concedes that this was the proper authority to exercise that power, but his complaint is that he was afforded no opportunity to be heard by that body before the latter terminated him. In dismissing the appellant's claim the trial judge took the view that the appellant's termination was justified in the light of the appellant's proved or admitted H misconducts, such as the loaning of money to himself without authority. With due respect to the learned judge, however, this did not do away with the need to afford the appellant the opportunity to be heard. For one thing, all along the appellant was protesting his innocence against the allegations which were made against him. His I admission of some of the allegations were invariably accompanied by explanations
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designed to absolve him. In those circumstances if the disciplining authority was A minded to impose a sanction on him, as indeed it did, it was right and proper, in accordance with the principle of natural justice, to hear him before condemning him. Indeed, even if his admissions of the allegations before the probe team were seemingly unequivocal, we think that it was still necessary to afford him the opportunity to put B up his defence before the board of directors although it would necessarily be the same as his defence before the probe team.
Mr. Muccadam, learned counsel for the respondents, contended before us and also in C the High Court that the appellant was duly afforded the opportunity to be heard when he was called upon to defend himself before the KUBK. With due respect to the learned counsel, however, this argument cannot be sustained. First, the KUBK was not the authority which imposed the sanction being complained against. The sanction was D imposed by the board of directors of the W.D.C.; the appellant's appearance therefore ought properly to have been before that body. What is more, and this seems to be even more serious, the evidence shows that the substance of the appellant's defence was not placed before the board of directors. The Deputy Secretary-General of JUWATA, E Mr. Elias Mashashi stated in his evidence for the defence that the report of the KUBK (Ex. D1) was not submitted to the board of directors of the W.D.C. This means that the board of directors terminated the appellant's employment purely on the strength of a bare recommendation by the KUBK, and that was totally wrong. F
We are satisfied that the learned trial judge wrongly dismissed the appellant's claims for defamation and for wrongful termination of his employment.
The second respondent's counter-claim was dismissed but nothing further was said about. The general rule in civil cases is that costs follow the event. That is to say the G successful party is entitled to recover his costs unless there are grounds for ordering otherwise. In this case the appellant was the successful party, as far as the counter-claim was concerned, and according to the general rule he was entitled to recover his costs. H The trial judge gave no reason, and we could find none, for departing from the general rule. On that account we find that the appellant was wrongly denied his costs following the dismissal of the counter-claim against him.
In the result we allow the appeal. The decision of the High Court is set aside, and instead thereof we enter judgment for the I
appellant as prayed in the plaint. We award shillings 200,000/= damages for the A defamation and shillings 50,000/= for the wrongful termination of employment. The appellant shall have his costs both in this court and in the Court below, the latter to include costs in respect of the dismissed counter-claim.
B Appeal allowed.