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Trevor Manuel apologises for criticising judge

Trevor Manuel.
Trevor Manuel.
Image: Waldo Swiegers

Old Mutual board chairperson Trevor Manuel has apologised “unreservedly” for the remarks he made on a high court judge who found that the dismissal of the company's CEO Peter Moyo was unlawful.

Manuel came under heavy criticism for seemingly targeting a judge who had ruled against the Old Mutual board's decision to fire Moyo. He said the board could not be overruled by a “single individual who happens to wear a robe”.

In his apology, Manuel noted that he had caused “discomfort” and said that he had not intended to “show disrespect” to judge Mashile.

“I accept that my language was wholly inappropriate to express my disagreement with the decision and sincerely regret the manner in which I did so,” said Manuel.

Moyo was fired from the company by the board chaired by former finance minister Manuel for alleged conflict of interest involving a company he co-founded, NMT Capital.

The board said at the time, that there were concerns around declaration of Moyo's dividends in the company. The financial services company said there was a break down in trust and confidence between them and Moyo.

But Moyo later claimed that his removal followed his disagreements with Manuel at board level.

Moyo took them to court and in his judgment in July, judge Mashile ordered Old Mutual to reinstate Moyo as CEO. He said the process leading up to Moyo’s dismissal was flawed as the company did not undertake any disciplinary process against him.

Old Mutual barred Moyo from entering his office as the matter was subject to appeal. They, however, still went to court for a declaratory order, stopping Moyo from returning to work until the appeal was finalised, this was also dismissed by the same judge Mashile.

A week later, Old Mutual board members held a media briefing in which Manuel made the remarks.

“My respect for the judiciary is unshaken and rooted in our sound legal process where all voices are heard with remedies available to address differences of legal position,” said Manuel yesterday.

“I support the board of Old Mutual’s efforts to make full use of the appeal process available to Old Mutual to state its case before the full court of the Gauteng local division of the high court. I remain fully committed to integrity of the judiciary, and to the Constitutional value of the independence of our judiciary.”


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