KML Saga: Chiyangwa ropped-in to oust Chanakira

Chanakira faces certain defeat after a consortium involving businessman and Zanu PF politician Phillip Chiyangwa indicated that it would back main shareholder and former chairman John Moxon who is calling for the removal of the Kingdom founder from the KML board.

Chanakira has for months refused to step down after the company’s shareholders decided that he should leave as part of a messy de-merger that could leave Chanakira exposed as his bank has no significant assets.

The EGM was suspended in September after riot police mounted a cordon around a room at the world-famous Meikles Hotel where the meting was due to take place. The police said they were enforcing a court order which said the meeting should be postponed for two weeks to give time for Chanakira to recover after he collapsed in Harare days before the scheduled meeting and was rushed to a Johannesburg hospital. The court order was delivered to shareholders at the hotel room on the day of the meeting by Chanakira’s wife.

Moxon expressed suspicions about the ‘convenience’ of Chanakira’s illness after it emerged that he was only suffering from ‘flue’ and was conducting his business ‘as usual’ by phone and on the internet from a room at Johannesburg’s prestigious Parkview Hospital.

In a statement to shareholders at the weekend, KML chairman Muchadei Masunda, who is also Harare mayor said the meeting will go ahead Friday with the original agenda, which includes a resolution to remove Chanakira from the board.

On Sunday, Rugare Chidembo, chairman of Loakcase Consortium, which includes Chiyangwa and Temba Mliswa said the consortium which now owns 10 percent of KML would back the resolution to remove Chanakira.

“The de-merger should go ahead as a matter of urgency…The consortium believes it is time they (Chanakira and Moxon) separaterd for the prosperity of their companies and the comfort and benefit of those who have supported them,” Chidembo was quoted by The Sunday Mail as saying.

The dispute between Chanakira and Moxon has seen the latter being ‘specified’ allegedly for running a corrupt enterprise, charges which Moxon vehemently denied recently. Also specified are KML subsidiaries, Kingdom Meikles Limited, Tanganda Tea and Company (Pvt) Ltd, Thomas Meikles Centre (Pvt) Ltd and Murlis Investments (Pvt) Ltd.

Under the specification order, government administrators have controversially been appointed to run the businesses.

The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange has suspended trade in KML shares, aiding its reputation as a dangerous corporate muggers’ alley amid fears that a ‘goon squad’ fronted by Chanakira might take over the assets of the Meikle family, one of the wealthiest families in the country.

Sources claimed that Chanakira had wanted 60 percent of Tanganda with the rest being snapped up by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono.

Sources familiar with the deal said in exchange, Moxon’s troubles with regulators were supposed to go away after he was specified for the first time in January, meaning he could not lawfully conduct business in Zimbabwe.

Under the dreaded specification order, Moxon had his Zimbabwean bank accounts frozen. As a result, one of his family’s jewels, TM supermarkets has been tottering on the brink of collapse and was only recently saved by Ray Ackerman’s Pick n Pay of South Africa.

The dispute between Chanakira and Moxon stems from an attempt by Moxon to fire Chanakira as CEO of KML. Chanakira played the race card, claimining he was being victimised. He used his considerable influence in Mugabe’s government to turn the tables. At one time, Chanakira is said to have set his sights on Moxon’s crown jewel, the Meikles Hotel in Harare, once ranked among the ten best hotels in the world.

Moxon is then said to have capitulated and said he would let go of Tanganda. Gono, who has oversight over banks, is said to have helped Chanakira regain control of his flagship Kingdom Bank in exchange for the Tanganda shares.

However, Moxon is said to have backtracked on the undertaking, resulting in Chanakira and another director, Callisto Jokonya refusing to step down from the KML board, leading to the present confrontation.