The Black Management Forum (BMF) has noted the Gauteng High Court’s judgement in the matter between Mr. Peter Moyo and Old Mutual.

As the BMF, we are extremely concerned about some of the factual findings which have been made by the Court, which indicate that Old Mutual completely flouted corporate governance and labour law practices in pursuit of a highly experienced and competent black executive. These include the following:

  • Old Mutual’s Board (including Mr Trevor Manuel) ignored the concerns that were raised by Mr Moyo with regards to Mr Manuel’s real/potential conflict of interest due to his directorship in the three entities that were involved in the “Managed Separation” transaction;
  • The Old Mutual Board failed to act when it was brought to their attention that Old Mutual was paying Mr Manuel’s legal fees in a matter that had nothing to do with Old Mutual;
  • Contrary to the public statements which have been made by Old Mutual, Mr Manuel continued to participate in the discussions relating to the “Managed Separation” transaction;
  • Old Mutual ignored the fact that its representative at the NMT Board (Mr Patel) had not indicated that any conflict of interest had ever arisen in his presence and that he had in fact supported the resolutions of the NMT Board; and
  • Old Mutual inexplicably sought to hold Mr Moyo responsible, as a non-executive director (NED) of NMT, for issues which are clearly the responsibility of NMT management and issues which Mr Moyo, like all other NEDs of NMT, was not aware of.  

As the BMF, we have been following this impasse very closely and have been concerned about the way Old Mutual sought to remove a competent black CEO under the guise of a concern about a conflict of interest. To us, this has always appeared to be a smokescreen designed to mask the real issues at play. We are pleased that the Court has, in its ruling, effectively reinforced the principle that companies cannot just get rid of employees, more especially black senior executives, without following proper procedure.

The BMF notes that the judgement was primarily about whether there was compliance with certain contractual provisions of the agreement concluded between Mr Moyo and Old Mutual and takes the view that those are ultimately issues to be resolved between those parties. However, BMF is very concerned about the apparent lack of compliance with basic governance principles by the Old Mutual Board, more so when such is done at the expense of those who have a vested interest not only in Old Mutual but in good corporate governance in general. This is indicative of the view that BMF has always shared, that the failure of governance should never be an issue that is reserved for the public sector only as the private sector is just as contaminated.

We are aware that Old Mutual has elected to appeal the judgement, as they are entitled to, but BMF’s view remains that the corporate governance issues highlighted in this judgement need to be seriously considered.

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About the Black Management Forum

The Black Management Forum (the BMF) has been in existence for 43 years. It is a thought-leadership organization with the main purpose of influencing socio-economic transformation in our country, in pursuit of socio-economic justice, fairness and equity. The BMF stands for the development and empowerment of managerial leadership and the creation of managerial structures and processes that reflect the demographics and values of the wider society.