Friday, September 18, 2009

(TALKZIMBABWE) A dispute with Chanakira led to specification, says Meikles family

A dispute with Chanakira led to specification, says Meikles family
AP/TH/TZG reporters
Fri, 18 Sep 2009 15:47:00 +0000

THE Meikles Family alleges that a dispute with Nigel Chanakira, whom they say is close to the Zanu PF party has led the government to freeze the conglomerate's assets. Earlier this week, the Home Affairs Ministry co-shareb by Zanu PF and MDC-T specified Kingdom Meikles Africa group (KMA).

The assets were frozen pending investigations into allegations of currency violations by company executives. The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange also was instructed to suspend trading in Meikles shares.

The company has banking, investment, supermarket, agricultural and retail interests, as well a leading 5-Star Harare hotel.

Sternford Moyo, an attorney for the Meikles family, said Thursday the freezing of the firm's assets was aimed at stopping a meeting next week at which shareholders were expected to demand the departure of group chief executive Nigel Chanakira.

"This is typical of the abuse of power we have seen in Zimbabwe," Moyo said. "If there is a case, why haven't any charges been made? Why hasn't it been taken to the courts first?"

The Movement for Democratic Change party, led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai condemned what it called a "mafia-style grab" although a minister from that party, Giles Mutsekwa leads the ministry with Zanu PF's Kembo Mohadi.

"We believe that asset grabbing sends wrong signals at a time the country wants to attract investment," the party said in a statement this week.

Earlier this week, President Mugabe reassured hundreds of businessmen that their potential investments in Zimbabwe would be safe, saying "the sanctity of property rights and the rule of law in all its dimensions are fully respected."

Lawyer Moyo said Chanakira has been in a long-standing boardroom dispute with John Moxon, head of the KMA family, and other board members and shareholders.

Moxon, accused of illegally exporting $7.8 million in funding from Zimbabwe to the company's luxury Cape Grace hotel in neighboring South Africa, denies any wrongdoing.

At a shareholders' meeting earlier this year, 90 percent of stockholders voted for the Meikles group to split from Chanakira's Kingdom Bank. Chanakira and two other directors have refused to quit.

Next week's shareholders meeting was expected to again demand Chanakira's departure on grounds he mounted a witch hunt against Moxon and other executives and shareholders and brought criminal allegations against them to thwart his ouster.


Meanwhile Chanakira has agreed to step down from the demerged KMA group on condition that unfulfilled legal and administrative formalities are completed.

Responding to a decision by the KMA group to convene an extraordinary general meeting to remove him from its board and subsidiary companies, he said the group had ignored to mention in its notice that there were some agreements its directors had to sign before the demerger could be completed.

Chanakira said he had not refused to resign, but pointed out that some outstanding corporate governance and administrative processes had to be followed before Kingdom Financial Holdings and Kingdom Meikles Africa were demerged and re-listed separately on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.

"For example, we have to agree on the valuations of the two companies and this is important to protect the interests of shareholders of both companies," said Chanakira.

The KFHL boss said KMA had persistently refused to discuss valuation of the two entities prior to the complete demerger that would have paved way for their re-listing "which we are saying is not correct".

"Naturally they have a responsibility to their shareholders and we respect their intention to hold an EGM. We too have the interests of our shareholders to consider and we reserve our options because our aim in this process is to also ensure that we protect shareholders," said Chanakira.

KMA called for an EGM seeking the removal of Chanakira and two other directors Callisto Jokonya and Sibusisiwe Bango, accusing them of refusing to relinquish their positions as agreed at an EGM held last June.

An extra ordinary general meeting to approve the demerger between the former Meikles Africa Limited and Kingdom Financial Holdings had agreed that Messrs Chanakira, Jokonya and Bango would step down from the KMA board.

The EGM will be held on September 24.

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