Moyo: Old Mutual director's resignation isn't a coincidence

Axed Old Mutual CEO Peter Moyo on Monday said Nombulelo Pinky Moholi's resignation from the board amid a legal tussle with the company was not a coincidence.

Moholi suddenly quit the Old Mutual board last week, citing personal reasons for her departure.

"I don't think it is coincidental... You don't just wake up and resign, after having been on the board for 7 years," Moyo told journalists at the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg. On Monday morning, the court granted him leave to bring new evidence in his contempt of court application against Old Mutual. This means he can introduce his second letter of termination.

After a court ruling that he had to be reinstated on a temporary basis after his first dismissal in July, Old Mutual fired Moyo again in August. He can now fight this dismissal, and the company's refusal to allow him back at work, as well.

Old Mutual has prevented him from resuming his duties despite the initial court order,  in a move that has created a protracted legal and corporate impasse.

The saga took a different turn last week, when the company's chairperson Trevor Manuel referred to Judge Brian Mashile as "a single individual who happens to wear a robe", in following his ruling against the company.

Manuel later apologised for the statement.

Moyo said he was surprised that the board did not take "drastic action" against Manuel, saying his utterances went against the character of Old Mutual.

"The character of Old Mutual respects the laws of every jurisdiction where we operate. The character of Old Mutual respects the courts... it respects the law. If you do not like a judgment you can appeal, but you do not denigrate the courts."

Old Mutual is appealing Mashile's judgment which reinstated Moyo, and it is likely that the case will be heard by a full bench of the Gauteng high court.

Commenting on Moholi's resignation, Moyo's lawyer, Eric Mabuza said her sudden exit should give other board members an opportunity to "reflect on their roles" in terms of their fiduciary responsibilities.  

He said he cannot tell if more directors were likely to follow Moholi's footsteps.  

Mabuza said Old Mutual was effectively facing two counts of contempt of court, based on Moyo's firing. He added that his team was pressing ahead with Part B of its application, which seeks to have the board declared delinquent. 

The contempt of court matter will be heard in 30 days.

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