Zimbabwe: Ex-VP Mphoko Quits Choppies Supermarket

Phelekezela Mphoko (right) was, along with current President Emmerson Mnangagwa (left), one of two vice presidents at the time of the ouster of Robert Mugave Mugabe in November 2017.
19 January 2019

FORMER state Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko and family have finally quit Choppies Supermarkets Zimbabwe, bringing to an end a protracted battle for control of the Botswana owned retail giant between the parties.

This was revealed in a press statement this week by lawyers representing the embattled ex-VP and son on one hand and Nanavac Investments (Pvt) Ltd, trading as Choppies Supermarkets Zimbabwe on the other.

Nanavac is the local partner of the Botswana registered Choppies Distribution Centre (Proprietary) Limited.

Until only recently, Mphoko was long believed to be the major shareholder within a retail giant that has often been targeted for looting by some Zimbabweans out to vent their anger on a one time senior member of a governmnet they accuse of being the source of their misery.

When relations went sour between the firm and the ex-government official, it emerged Mphoko was only offered 7% shares from the company as thank you for facilitating its entry into Zimbabwe and to dodge the country's tough indigenisation laws which prescribed at least 51% ownership by locals.

Choppies Enterprise chief executive officer Ramachandran Ottapathu recently said in a letter to the press that the Mphokos were given 51% of the shareholding "on paper", to meet Zimbabwe's tough empowerment laws, but their actual shareholding was 7%.

Mphoko was adamant he had the lion's share of the company's Zimbabwean unit.

The matter spilled into the courts.

However, the parties have since found common ground, paving way for the Mphokos' eventual exit.

The deal was announced by the parties' lawyers, Welshman Ncube of Mathonsi Law Chambers representing the ex-VP and Munyaradzi Nzarayapenga of Dube-Banda, Nzarayapenga and Partners who represented Choppies.

"We have been instructed by our clients, Choppies Enterprises Limited and the Hon Phelekezela Mphoko and Mr Siqokoqela Mphoko to advise the public and all staff of Nanavac Investments (Pvt) Ltd, trading as Choppies Supermarkets Zimbabwe, that the shareholders and directors of Nanavac Investments (Pvt) Ltd have amicably resolved and settled all issues, matters, cases and disputes between them and amongst themselves so that there are nolonger any outstanding issues between our respective clients, who further advise that the Mphokos have disinvested from Nanavac Investments (Pvt) Ltd trading as Choppies Supermarkets in Zimbabwe, and have no further interests in the company and its business," read the joint statement.

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