In an apparent blow to chairperson Trevor Manuel, Old Mutual director Nombulelo Pinky Moholi has resigned with immediate effect.
Moholi, who chaired the remuneration committee, said she resigned for personal reasons.
The board is currently consumed by a battle with on-again, off-again CEO Peter Moyo. Moyo has filed a legal action to have the board declared in contempt of court for not allowing him back at work. He also wants the board to be declared delinquent.
Moholi’s resignation may be interpreted as a sign of dissent within the board.
Moyo and Old Mutual have filed various legal actions against each other, in a dispute about whether the CEO's services have been legally terminated. Old Mutual has fired Moyo twice in recent months.
“Ms Moholi wished the Board all the best during this difficult time, and stated that she was honoured to have had the privilege to serve as a director of the company over the last 7 years,” Old Mutual said in a statement.
At a media conference last week, Manuel described Moyo's application to have members of the board declared delinquent as "far-fetched". He said such an attempt would have a serious impact on corporate governance, as stipulated in the Companies Act, which states that shareholders elect directors to represent their interests.
"Just because one individual is upset, you can’t transcend the impact of corporate governance as set out in the Companies Act, that shareholders elect directors to represent their interests. So you can’t take shareholders out of play in this… it would be too far-fetched," said Manuel.
Manuel rejected Moyo's claim that directors were being being bullied by him (Manuel), with no views of their own. Manuel was accompanied by three directors - Paul Baloyi, Peter de Beyer and Marshall Rapiya - of the 14 board members at the media conference.
In an interview with Business Day last week, Moholi called Moyo “talented” and “experienced”, saying it was difficult for the board to conclude that it had lost confidence and trust in him.
A former CEO of Telkom, Moholi is also a director of Woolworths and Anglo American Platinum.
Earlier this week, Manuel was forced to apologise for a reference to High Court Judge Brian Mashile as "a single individual who happens to wear a robe". Mashile delivered a ruling against the company in litigation involving its axed CEO Peter Moyo.
The article has been revised to corrected Moholi's previous executive roles and profession.