Struggle for control of Choppies in Zimbabwe

Namibia-based Choppies recently opened its 33rd store in Zimbabwe, but this has been overshadowed by the ongoing struggle for control of the retailer´s local operations.
On paper, Choppies´ Zimbabwean operation is 51% owned by Nanavac Investments (which is controlled by former Zimbabwean vice-president Phelekezela Mphoko’s family) and 49% by Choppies Enterprises Limited. But Choppies CEO Ramachandaran Ottapathu claims “We can’t continue with the 51% deal. We agreed at the time they would get 7% for helping us to set up in Zimbabwe. They have all along been getting dividends based on the 7% they actually hold.”
However, Mphoko is standing firm: “The law is very clear. We held a 51% stake from the beginning because retail is a reserved sector under the law in Zimbabwe… They want to undermine Zimbabwe’s laws … we won’t allow them to rob us.” However, Ottapathu maintains that Choppies has an option to buy the bulk of Nanavac’s shareholding in the operation for just USD1.
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