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Old Mutual cannot block Moyo from returning to work, lawyer says

Aug 01 2019 05:30
Sibongile Khumalo
Axed Old Mutual CEO Peter Moyo during judgement in

Axed Old Mutual CEO Peter Moyo during judgement in his case against the company in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg. (Gallo Images/Business Day/Freddy Mavunda)

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Newly reinstated Old Mutual CEO Peter Moyo is on Thursday set to again return to work, his lawyer has said, adding that any attempt to block him would be in violation of a court order for his temporary reinstatement.

Moyo reported back for work at the group's Johannesburg head office in Sandton on Wednesday following his court victory over the company which axed him in June without a disciplinary hearing.

A meeting between the Moyo and Old Mutual's legal teams was supposed to get underway on Wednesday, but Old Mutual called it off a few minutes before it was due to start.

The insurance and financial services group is appealing the high court order and has directed its former CEO not to return to work until the appeal process has been completed. 

“Moyo has a court order which says he must go back to work. It would be quite shocking for such a big company not to comply with it,” Moyo's lawyer Eric Mabuza said on Wednesday. “We expect them to obey the order of the court. He will continue going to work for as long as that order is valid,” he added.

Old Mutual, meanwhile in a statement on Wednesday afternoon said Moyo would "not be returning to office until the appeal process has been completed."

"It is very clear that there has been an irreparable breakdown in trust and confidence, and that any future working relationship is untenable," the company said. 

Suspended, dismissed, reinstated

Moyo was reinstated temporarily as the company's head by an order of the court pending Part B of his application. In the next phase of his application he will argue that Old Mutual damaged his reputation and that the board of directors should be declared delinquents under the Companies Act.

He was originally suspended by Old Mutual in May and dismissed in June over what the company described as "breakdown in trust and confidence". The company further claimed he had a conflict of interest and had failed to pay out dividends to Old Mutual from an investment firm he co-founded.  

In his ruling on Tuesday, Judge Brian Mashile found that Old Mutual invoked clauses of their contract with Moyo incorrectly. Moyo was appointed as CEO in June 2017. 

*Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that a proposed meeting between the legal teams of the two sides was called off on Wednesday before it started. 

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