Cape Town – Leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Julius Malema, blasted and accused Old Mutual Chairman and former minister of finance, Trevor Manuel, on Tuesday, for being a servant of White Monopoly Capital (WMC).
At a press briefing at the EFFs headquarters in Johannesburg, Malema said Manuel “has always served white capital”, claiming that they had known all along about his alleged dealings with Rothschild.
“It’s a confirmation of what we have been saying,” said Malema as he referred to the court action filed by axed Old Mutual CEO Peter Moyo on Friday, in which, Moyo alleges Manuel is caught up in a “triple conflict of interest” wherein Manuel is alleged to have engaged in financial improprieties and breaches of corporate governance practices.
One such instance of financial misconduct and conflict of interest allegedly implicates a R5 billion commercial project known as "Managed Separation", which involved the delisting of old Mutual PLC from the London Stock Exchange and the proposed listing of the company on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).
Moyo also asserted that one of the companies that stood to benefit the most from the realisation of the Managed Separation project was Rothschild, which stood to gain hundreds of millions of rand in fees as one of the transaction advisors. Manuel is a director of Rothschild. Moyo also contends that Manuel had used Old Mutual company funds to finance his personal legal battles with the now infamous Gupta family.
According to Moyo, Manuel used his position to improperly benefit from litigation involving the Guptas.
In March this year, prior to being sacked, Moyo had informed Manuel that he intended to raise an objection with the board regarding the improper non-disclosure of a payment amounting to “millions of rand”, which was paid by Old Mutual in respect of his legal fees for his much publicised legal battle relating to the Guptas and their associates.
“This matter had absolutely nothing to do with Old Mutual. It was highly irregular and improper not to disclose it to Old Mutual shareholders, who knew nothing about it,” said Moyo.
He further states that Manuel even tried to dissuade him from disclosing the matter.
For this, and other reasons, Moyo is seeking for the courts to have Manuel declared delinquent, which means that Manuel will never be a director in any company should the courts find in Moyo’s favour.
Manuel is the chairman of Old Mutual PLC, Old Mutual Limited and Rothschild & Co.
Commenting on the various allegations that transpired, particularly concerning Manuel’s relationship with newly appointed South African Revenue Services (SARS) commissioner Edward Kieswetter, Malema said Manuel recused himself from the panel that appointed him because they had close ties.
“He recused himself because he has a relationship with the guy. He confirms that in his papers because he recused himself yet, did not leave the room, which was also a disadvantage on other candidates. Why interview other people when the person you have a relationship with is coming. The whole process of the SARS commission was unfair and was conducted in secret.
"There were people who recused themselves, yet they stayed in the hall. They want SARS so desperately because it’s the only weapon they have to fight against their enemies … The SARS Commission was done in secret by Trevor Manuel, a matter he has not disputed.
"Why recuse yourself but still sit in the room … Trevor is also being accused of bullying by Peter Moyo. That is his style. Your favourite is now involved in big problems and has huge conflicts. He is sitting in boards where he tends to benefit from this and that. Your favourite is no different from the rest. All your favourites are the same,” said Malema.
Commenting on the Moyo Saga, Bandile Hadebe, the acting president of the ANC Professionals League (ANCPL), said the organisation had long suspected that Moyo’s dismissal at Old Mutual was partly due to an anti-transformation agenda that was brewing within the company.
“We have been trying to get close to the matter of the dismissal of Moyo and what we are finding out is that he was an agent of transformation who was committed to recruiting capable blacks to strategic positions at Old Mutual. We are concerned that his dismissal might also be fuelled by resistance to change,” he said.
Khaya Sithole, a charted accountant and independent financial analyst said the questions around transformation remained pervasive in big corporates like Old Mutual and broadly, the financial services sector.
“For an entity that is going through fundamental change, the concerns around transformation are escalated, as organizational restructure and redesign may generate unintended consequences for the restructured group. For example, if the single entity has managed to put together a transformation plan and structure that meets stakeholder expectations, the new entities that emerge after the restructure may not replicate the same transformation matrix that existed before the changes. That sets back the transformation process altogether,” explained Sithole.
He further argued that in Moyo’s case, as there were different versions of the story between the board and Moyo that have yet to be reconciled, it is still not absolutely certain, which version is true.
“But the idea that his perception as an agent of transformation contributed to his demise is a fanciful one, as in his capacity as a director and CEO, he was responsible for implementing the transformation plan at the operational deck. He then needs to illustrate how this was frustrated by the board - if that was indeed the case,” he said.
Old Mutual has since said they would not respond to the issues outside of the court process.