Following a high court judgment finding Old Mutual had unlawfully dismissed Peter Moyo as CEO, he returned to work on Wednesday morning, as he promised he would.
“I’m back at the office tomorrow morning at 8am. I want to go back [to] Old Mutual. In terms of my contract of employment, Old Mutual did not deal with it properly when dismissing me,” said Moyo following the judgment.
The situation at Old Mutual, however, is complicated.
The company has announced they would be appealing the judgment, releasing a statement saying he would not be “required” to go back to work.
“The filing of the appeal will suspend the operation of the court order,” they argued in the statement. “Mr Moyo has been informed that he is not required or permitted to resume his duties, pending the outcome of the appeal proceedings.”
This is at odds with how Eric Mabuza, Moyo’s lawyer, interprets the situation.
“There’s nothing that stops him from going to work, there is no appeal, a notice of appeal doesn’t suspend the order,” Mabuza told Fin24.
Mabuza wrote a letter to Old Mutual’s lawyers, Bowman Gilfillan Attorneys, saying that if the company prevented Moyo from resuming his duties, they would be in “willful contempt of court”.
“We trust that your client’s board, for once, will act in a measured and lawful manner in the interest of Old Mutual shareholders,” Mabuza wrote.
Old Mutual, meanwhile, said their statement stood, and that interim CEO Ian Williamson would continue working, leaving it unclear as to whether or not Moyo would be allowed to perform his duties today.
In a video interview with News24, Mabuza argued that Old Mutual’s legal position was “quite incorrect”.
“This is an interim order, if they want to suspend an interim order they must go to court to get a court order to suspend it,” he said.
He added that Old Mutual’s legal team was aware of his position and was in the process of “caucusing about it”.
Judge Lester Adams made Tuesday’s judgment on behalf of Judge Brian Mashile. According to the judgment, Old Mutual failed to follow the terms of Moyo’s employment contract when he was dismissed.
Old Mutual, however, in announcing its appeal, said it believed that Moyo’s application was “ill-conceived, contained a number of false allegations, and should have been dismissed”, adding that it was optimistic that another court might come to a different conclusion.
(Background reporting, Ray Mahlaka, Moneyweb)