Choppies boardroom war goes to High Court

Siqokoqela Mphoko

Mr Siqokoqela Mphoko

Daniel Nemukuyu, Harare Bureau
THE Mphoko family has come under fire for allegedly hijacking the Choppies retail business and “looting” cash from the outlets countrywide without board approval.

Mr Siqokoqela Mphoko, son to the country’s former vice president Phelekezela Mphoko, is a director for Nanavac Investments Private Limited, a local partner for the Botswana-registered Choppies Distribution Centre (Proprietary) Limited.

A shareholder in the retail business, Mr Mphoko is accused of abusing his power to “loot” cash realised from sales at different supermarkets and replacing it with transfers.

Another family member identified as Ms Nomagugu Mphoko is also accused of bulldozing various shops demanding cash.

The two, according to the foreign investors, are using threats of deportation on Choppies employees. The boardroom war has spilled into the High Court with Choppies seeking to bar the Mphoko family from interfering with the operations of the retail business.

Choppies wants the family to be barred from taking money from the business and harassing workers.

Mr Mphoko and Ms Mphoko have been listed as respondents in an urgent interdict filed at the High Court this week.

Choppies accuses Mr Mphoko of being ungrateful considering that he was being paid $10 000 monthly and a dividend annually as part of their deal.

He also uses a company vehicle and draws fuel from Choppies. Mr Mphoko, according to the court papers, gets school fees allowances for his children, among other benefits.

A founding affidavit by Choppies chief executive Mr Ramachandran Ottapathu says the Mphoko family is on a looting spree.

“First respondent (Mr Mphoko) has, without board authority from third respondent (Nanavac Investments), agreement with any of the applicants and without seeking their consent, demanded and looted cash from different supermarkets. He has embezzled to date the sum of $45 258. He has also extended himself unauthorised lines of credit, which have seen him misappropriating the company’s stocks and fuel amounting to $6 687,06.

“He has also, without authorisation, transferred $7 000 from the company for his personal use,” read the affidavit.

Ms Mphoko, who is not a director or employee of Choppies, is said to have demanded and collected $30 230 cash from the daily takings at various outlets in Zimbabwe.

“Second respondent, who is neither an employee, member, director nor shareholder of third respondent, with apparent blessing of the first respondent, has been taking all the cash generated from the business operations of the third respondent forcibly from cashiers and swiping back at point of sale machines from her own personal account or those of her family members,” read the affidavit.

Any attempts by workers to deny the Mphokos access to cash, the papers read, was met with threats of deportation, physical harm and in some cases, riotous, vulgar and racist utterances. “The first and second respondents’ behaviour has continued unabated leaving the company on the brink of a financial meltdown and a genuine fear and reality of a potential exodus of highly skilled expatriate staff.

“The business survival is at risk and there is real fear of irreparable harm should the first and second respondents continue with their destructive behaviour unabated,” the court papers read.

The behaviour of the Mphokos, the court heard, was likely to strain the bilateral relations between Zimbabwe and Botswana.

Choppies claims to have invested $66 million in the retail business and that it employs 1 800 people.

The Mphoko family is yet to respond to the urgent chamber application.

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  • Naome Seolwane

    Fusteki you are being used by EDiot to fight Mphoko

    • Emeka

      “Fusteki’ it shows how demented you are. Therefore it is not ur fault,

    • Jotham

      How does ED come into this?

    • Jump Off The Moving Bus

      It’s not our fault that your being sexually abused as a child has left you numb and unable to trust anyone. Forgive and stop blaming yourself and everyone.

    • Volcanic Eruption

      what else did they do when daddy was VP?

  • John

    these people are being used to damage Mphoko

  • Joy

    Any business does not function where there are no procedural guidelines where transactions are regulated or defined clearly on who does what and where the authority of say the cashier or branch manager ends. For some just to walk into the supermarket and claim the cash in exchange of swipe or transfer is not proper particularly where one says she is a Mphoko. The Mphokos should put their house in order, they should stick to the agreements that bound them and Choppies. I do not agree with the fact that the Indians we see in these supermarkets have special skills that locals do not have.

  • Mike Baramasimbe

    The Mphoko family must not use stone-age tactics to fight boardroom wars. Whether they are legally entitled to the hefty 51% or the meagre 3% shareholding in the local Choppies entity or were merely used to circumvent Indigenization regulations is for the competent courts to determine. In the meantime, it’s clearly criminal for anyone to be raiding tills at Choppies retail outlets and perpetrators must be arrested forthwith.

    • Essexvale

      And their right to shares will be transferred to some slime-ball character in Harare. Is that what you really have in mind?

      • Mike Baramasimbe

        Don’t get me wrong-my opinion has nothing to do with what you are insinuating

        • Essexvale

          That’s OK Mike (Roddy?); I was simply expressing concerns that are consistent with issues concerning the systematic marginalisation of an entire populace.

          • Rod Strickland

            Yo Essexvale you behaving like a fool , you know I mean?
            Talkin’ foul ’boutme in my absence every tyme.
            Well I ain’t know you well enough ta defend you though, right?
            All along you seemed like you gots true game, but lately you have been showing some beotch behaviour.
            But peep dis game, I’ve been playing dis game all my life,
            You know I won da title on dis forum a couple o’ times
            Dig right, you know what I mean?
            You can’t hurt me, , git up in dis ring, put on deez gloves
            Let me show how I handle my bidness,
            I don’ gots nobody out dere wif me
            I gots ta show you,
            Come on ta me, , but when you come,
            You gotta come fo’ blood,
            You bettah be prepared ta finish what you start,
            If you’re afta me then you gotta hit harder than dat
            I don’ wants nah beotch s hanging out wif me,
            Were warriors , when we go into battle
            We come out or don’ come out at all !!

          • Essexvale

            Go play your games at a creche near you. This place is for serious business and you obviously prefer to play. Concerning your invitation ….. listen up boy; I don’t think that you’d last 1 minute with me in the ring. You see, I make it my business to keep in super shape.

          • Doctor Do little

            My friend In my experience someone with such a big mouth is a little 4 foot runt that wears round spectacles and was bullied in school. They are full over the internet and they get a rush if someone harms themselves because of their trolling. When they are in the streets and public places they usually cringe when they pass others for fear of being smacked around.Unfortunately for him he chose the wrong targets.

      • Aunty Sicel’ utshwala s’phuze

        I couldn’t stand it if I had to wear them!!

  • Izwi likaMthwakazi

    All indians are Guptas of Zimbabwe, they demand cash upfront for their products, which money money they do not bank so where are they taking it to and worse they don’t improve their working facilities/buildings which are run down.

  • zibulo

    with the help of ZANU , you forgot to say that. And what of the Chinese ? do not attack selectively, all these foreigners have bennn brought on us by ZANU,who claimed to chase european “settlers”who built the infrastructure we inherited and ZANU opened doors to chinese /pakistanis, who never ever contributed to any meaningfule economic development to Zimbabwe. Go ask who opened the dorrs for Chinese clothing which resulted in our own factories and textile mills closing down. We were self sufficient on clothing, growing cotton, spinning it at David Whitehead, and Textile Mills and Merlin and clothing factories making the BEST MEN’S SUITS FOR EXPORT , Mpoko as we said is part of the brigade , and i did mention that its the Pakistanis who own Choppies, the same guys with spazas all over Mzansi, and some people label me CRAZY

  • Doctor Do little

    During the slave trade you had blacks capturing other blacks and selling them to the Arabs. This is no different. The resources are being looted by these people with the assistance of powerful Politicians.

  • Ndlukula Ye Sizwe

    Highly skilled expatriate staff? Ko Choppies? Kkk yeah right!

  • God of War

    So now the truth comes out. Mboko was just a front for these indian guys to come and operate in Zimbabwe.

    • Gatsheni

      UMboko ugogo wakho, owakithi uMphoko…uyazi izinto lezi zaseshoneni ziyanyanyisa blind

      • God of War

        mwana wehure.

    • zibulo

      i always write to tell you these things and you guys take me for granted !!!. i have written about the Choppies ownership and have been ridiculed. i try to write to say some evils that have gone on but i am always ridiculed , now you say “the truth comes out now”. There’s more about Indians- ask how come nothing has been taken from Indians, as they were favored during Zim apartheid; they always BUY politicians who rule on the day. The same Indians- Naran eg, had his son wed in Bulawayo in the 1980s , and had a ZRP Motorcade – an Indian , imagine. So we have Guptas here and ZANU knows them, they donate big time to ZANU hence politicians are mum on seizing Indian owned buildings in the lucrative parts of all cities in Zim. They own them shops where blacks shop mostly, near bus or kombi ranks ,as you enter the cities, yet THEY HATE BLACKS SO MUCH . Lets all strive to take power away from politicians, and fix things, supporting ZANU and even MDC wont work for masses. they wine and dine with a black man’s enemies always

  • Baobab

    Mr. Sheraton aka Mphoko is a greedy man how long didhe live at the Sheraton?!He is the same personwho was embroiled in forcing a coloured Paul Evans to give up his business whole assisting the indians who cannot speak a local language except say Iniwhena funa!