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Update On Former VP Mphoko’s Choppies Case

The Bulawayo High Court last week reserved judgment in a case involving former Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko and his son, Siqokoqela who are suing Choppies Enterprises over a 51% Choppies share stake they lost.

The Mphokos sued Nanavac Investments Pty Ltd, Choppies Enterprises and Choppies Distribution Centre (Proprietary) Limited in Gaborone, Botswana demanding payment for the 51% shares they held before they were unlawfully denied of their entire shareholding by the company.

Mphoko’s lawyer Zibusiso Ncube told NewsDay on Tuesday that the matter was heard last Thursday when the parties made their oral arguments.

He said the matter was heard before Bulawayo High Court judge, Justice Martin Makonese.

It emerged in 2019 that the Mphokos allegedly helped Choppies bypass provisions of Zimbabwe’s Indigenisation Act through their ownership of shares.

In a letter addressed to Mphoko when the fallout started, former Botswana President Festus Mogae who is Choppies former chairperson wrote:

…My brother (Mphoko), I would like to bring the following facts to your attention: We entered into this partnership with a clear understanding of the shareholding of 93% to Choppies Enterprise and 7% to the Mphoko family, free of charge.

But the Mphokos denied the 7% shares saying they were the majority shareholders in terms of Zimbabwe’s Indigenisation Act laws which stated that locals should have 51% shares if they partner with foreign-owned companies.

Indications are that the former VP held 25.5% shares, while Siqokoqela also held 25.5% shares in a joint venture identified as Nanavac Investments Pty ltd, and Choppies Enterprises held the remaining 49%.

What transpired:

a). The Mphokos’ lawyer said about 2018, a dispute arose between Siqokoqela and Choppies resulting in Choppies instituting legal proceedings against him and his wife at the High Court.

b). On January 9, 2019, in order to secure their freedom, Siqokoqela signed a deed of settlement with Choppies Enterprises in terms of which the Mphokos disposed of their shareholding in the company.

c). As per the deed of settlement, the Mphokos were to be paid US$2.9 million by Choppies.

d). The lawyer added that the deed of settlement was void as the Mphokos signed it under duress after the arrest and detention of Siqokoqela and his wife on malicious and false charges, and unlawful stoppage of his salary.

e). Mphoko said he signed the deed of settlement fearing the continued persecution of his son and his daughter-in-law at the hands of the company.

f). They said Choppies paid the sum of US$2.9m representing about 7% of the shareholding in local currency when the shareholding was purportedly being acquired by a foreign entity in terms of the shareholders’ agreement of July 24, 2013.

The Mphokos want the court to declare the deed of settlement unlawful through which they were dispossessed of their entire shareholding in Choppies.

They also want US$22 585 714, as the true value of their 51% shareholding in Choppies.

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