At a media briefing explaining his board’s position on the ongoing legal battle between Old Mutual and its CEO Peter Moyo, board chairperson Trevor Manuel voiced criticism of Brian Mashile, the judge who ruled that the company’s dismissal of CEO Peter Moyo was illegal and must be overturned.
“If you take a board imbued with the responsibility and accountability and you get that overturned by a single individual who happens to wear a robe, I think you have a bit of a difficulty,” he said.
A clip of him saying this has since been shared many times on social media, attracting criticism from users who accused him of a lack of respect for the judiciary.
Manuel responded Moyo’s legal team stating that they wanted Manuel and the directors of the board declared delinquent and a new, interim board appointed, saying this would not happen unless there was “just cause” for them to step down.
He expressed the view that Moyo had already been awarded R4 million in court, amounting to six months’ notice pay, and that this should be enough.
“I don’t know what else he might expect,” Manuel said.
He also said the board was unanimous in feeling that Old Mutual had handled the battle with Moyo well.
“The board is solid behind what has happened, all the way,” he said.
In a lighter moment, Manuel addressed the issue of the R500,000 owed to him by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), who were found guilty of defamation after suggesting that Manuel was guilty of corruption and nepotism in his selection of Edward Kieswetter as the new commissioner of the South African revenue service (Sars).
He told the briefing that he was still waiting “for a certain political party to pay me my R500,000”.
He added that he wanted to donate that money to those who had money stolen in the VBS bank debacle, in which the EFF had been implicated.
“I will find those aunties whose money was stolen at VBS Mutual Bank and say here is your money. But I have to wait for the appeal,” he said.
It was reported earlier on Friday that Old Mutual had taken to the decision not to pursue further legal action against their Moyo and had abandoned an urgent application it had planned to bring against him, saying it would “prefer not to have to engage in further collateral litigation”.
But the company then released a statement denying that this amounted to them backing down, as they are still appealing the High Court judgment overturning their dismissal of Moyo.
In a media statement, however, Old Mutual noted it had “certainly not backed down” from its appeal process against an earlier judgment handed down in the High Court.
“That judgment creates a massive headache in corporate governance space. We are confident it will be overturned,” said Manuel in defence of Old Mutual’s legal decisions.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)