Peter Moyo, former Old Mutual CEO. Picture: SUPPLIED
Peter Moyo, former Old Mutual CEO. Picture: SUPPLIED

Peter Moyo’s lawyer, Advocate Dali Mpofu, says the axed Old Mutual CEO is a victim of the insurer’s inability to protect whistle-blowers.

“What we are really dealing with here is a case of victimisation,” said Mpofu on Thursday during an urgent high court hearing between the two parties. “The so-called breakdown in relationship is actually manufactured, it’s not real so the employer cannot benefit from it.” 

Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, also representing Moyo, said the only reason he was fired was because of his conflict with Old Mutual chair Trevor Manuel and because of interviews he had with the media on the day of his suspension in May. Ngcukaitobi said Old Mutual has expanded its case to the court, including things that were not cited as reasons for Moyo’s suspension.

Moyo has accused Manuel of “gunning for him” because he had raised concerns that the former finance minister was conflicted in the handling of the split of its domestic business from the UK-based Old Mutual Plc.  Manuel was not in court on Thursday.

The insurer will present its case in the afternoon but in its court papers, it dismissed Moyo’s statement that he was being victimised because of whistle-blowing. It said this was an after-thought argument and that he was mocking a serious issue by trying to cast himself as a whistle-blower.

Moyo approached the court on June 28 for an urgent application to be temporarily reinstated and to interdict Old Mutual from filling his former role. This followed the insurer firing him in June after a citing a breakdown in trust between himself and the board as a result of a conflict of interest linked to NMT, an investment company co-founded by Moyo.

Mpofu told Judge Brian Mashile that — while Old Mutual can argue that the mere fact Moyo has approached the court is, indeed, proof that the breakdown in his relationship between him and Old Mutual is irreparable and thus reinstating him would not be the best resolution — a ruling in its favour would see the “victimiser” benefit.

buthelezil@businesslive.co.za