Old Mutual Board, Manuel In Breach Of SA Constitution
Embattled former Old Mutual CEO Peter Moyo has lodged an urgent application for the board of Old Mutual and its chairperson Trevor Manuel to be declared as having deliberately interfered with the functioning of the courts.
In a new affidavit, the on-again, off-again Old Mutual head stated that his second axing by the financial services giant on August 22 was “deliberately calculated to undermine the efficacy of the judgment of this court”.
In an open letter published on its website last week, Old Mutual said it took the step to terminate Mr Moyo’s tenure as CEO for a second time “after legal advice and on careful reflection by directors, with proper regard to their fiduciary duties to the company”.
Mr Moyo is currently challenging in court his first firing in June. Judgment in that case is expected at the end of August.
Old Mutual said last week that Mr Moyo may decide to challenge his second notice of termination in court. The group said it would once again defend its position if he did so. “We will stand our ground if he does, naturally, and at all times continuing to respect the law and our court system,” a statement from the group read.
The former Old Mutual CEO challenged his initial dismissal in court in late July, arguing he was being victimized for bringing up what he said was a conflict of interest for Mr Manuel. Mr Manuel has denied this.
On July 30, Judge Brian Mashile found that his dismissal was unlawful and ordered Old Mutual to reinstate him on a temporary basis. However, he was barred from work the day after his court victory, after South Africa’s second-largest insurer filed a notice to appeal against the judgment.
Mr Moyo, in his affidavit filed on Monday, states that his latest application is a continuation of his previous bid to have Old Mutual declared in contempt of court for failing to reinstate him. Arguments in this case were heard on August 16 and judgement reserved until the end of the month.
He is now asking the court to hold off on that ruling until arguments in his latest application are heard on Tuesday September 3.
“(The)act of interference is exacerbated and aggravated by the fact that there is a pending judgement. To anticipate the judgement and act recklessly and precipitously as Old Mutual has done, is a grave act of interference with the functioning of the court,” Mr Moyo’s legal document reads.
On August 22 a law firm representing Old Mutual sent a letter to Mr Moyo’s legal team denying the company was in contempt of court by firing him for the second time.
Mr Moyo cited Section 165 of the Constitution in his new court papers which vests judicial authority in the courts. He states that Manuel and 13 non-executive directors at Old Mutual should be declared in breach for “interference with the functioning of the court”.
“It is imperative upon this court to restore its dignity and authority … and ensure appropriate censure,” his affidavit reads.
He also wants Mr Manuel and the non-executive directors to pay the costs of this application personally “as this conduct does not promote the interests of stakeholders . . . and in fact harms them”.