Making a mockery of judges, as seen in the case of axed Old Mutual CEO Moyo Mashile by Manuel, flies in the face of what we and our forefathers fought for.
The nasty standoff between Old Mutual chair Trevor Manuel and axed chief executive officer Peter Moyo, has dragged on for too long – not only at a cost to the company’s drastic share price drop, but it also poses a threat to key features our fledgling democracy: corporate governance and respect for the judiciary.
Central to the public spat, which has won Moyo support from the Black Management Forum (BMF) and other powerful individuals, is his high court victory for his reinstatement as CEO – a matter Old Mutual is reneging on.
At the source of the souring of relations between the two corporate elephants are:
While Old Mutual has every right to appeal any court ruling, what has been worrying has been Manuel’s disparaging remarks, attacking Johannesburg High Court judge Brian Mashile, who has ruled Moyo be reinstated.
Manuel’s reference to Mashile as “a single individual who happens to wear a robe” borders on disrespect and disdain for the judiciary – one of the cornerstones of our constitutional democracy.
When judges are referred in some quarters as “counter revolutionary” or “captured”, Manuel – regarded as the champion of morality – would be one of the first to condemn such remarks.
The insult – coming from an individual who has been in the forefront of struggles waged against the trampling of rights against individuals or groups – has angered many South Africans.
An independent judiciary that rules without fear or favour is what the majority of South Africans – including Manuel – have for years been striving for.
Had Mashile ruled in Old Mutual’s favour, Manuel would certainly be the first to hail the courts for applying the law fairly and correctly.
BMF president Andile Nomlala could not have put it better: “It is a sad day when a large corporate such as Old Mutual, through its chair, refers to members of our judiciary in this manner.”
An independent and an impartial judiciary is an important element of our democracy, which we should protect at all costs.
Making a mockery of judges, as seen in the case of Mashile by Manuel, flies in the face of what we and our forefathers fought for.
With the interest of the Old Mutual brand in mind, is there a shareholder who would be proud of a corporate leader who speaks like a layman?
To borrow from George Orwell, could it be that some individuals are more important than others?
For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.