nigel.jpgNigel Chanakira, a victim of some calculated neo-colonial deception- Lessons for Zimbabwe!
By Mhlomuli Ncube

 

The most talked about merger in Zimbabwe’s business arena which saw Nigel Chanakira’s Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited marrying the Moxon family’s Meikles Africa, was celebrated as a corporate achievement.

 

It was also hailed as a new dawn in the country’s business sector, where two partners from different backgrounds were merged to form a single business entity.

 

But the question of whether that merger was going to survive kept propping up, and interestingly, it was veiled by the excitement of the new marriage and effectively swept under the carpet.

 

When reality set in and the two partners discovered that they could not work together, Nigel Chanakira’s eyes were opened to a harsh reality that he was the one who would suffer the most.

 

However, this issue must be understood on a larger picture than the celebrations of the day that clouded a lot of facts that could have prevented Chanakira from burning his fingers.

 

Now caught in a precarious position where he should raise US$22,5 million to finance the demerger, he still has to go further and raise more funds to buy out the Moxon family’s stake to regain control of Kingdom.

 

Where corporate rules apply, it is purely business.

 

But underneath all that lies a bigger deceitful scheming that the Moxon family planned carefully.

 

As Nigel Chanakira raised issues of forex externalisation, which led to the specification of Moxon, I am convinced that underneath that deal lay a scheme that was uncovered before it actually came out in its true nature.

 

This is where our government, which has been very vocal in putting indigenous people at the helm of their economy, should be more vigilant.

 

With a majority of our companies seeking to recapitalise their operations in the current business spectrum, a lot of sinister mergers and demergers are going to be witnessed.

 

This is where the indigenisation champions should be on the lookout.

 

I shudder as I think that if this could happen to a financial and economic guru of Chanakiras’ calibre, what more could happen to other local entrepreneurs who are not as erudite as him?

 

This is the best time to have a statutory body that will look into any proposed ventures into business, where large stakes of business are changing hands between indigenous people and foreign investors.

 

We do not want to throw out the baby and the bathing water all in the name of investment.

The idea of empowerment should look deeper into the dynamics that a particular business will take if it incorporates a new foreign partner.

Nigel Chanakira’s “sin” was to be “over trusting” to neo-colonial imperialist calculations designed to swindle him and other indigenous shareholders of  what the man had worked hard to set up.

 

Local business people should know that the Chanakira saga was not the last.

 

Many such schemes will come up and as long as we are unsuspecting, we will again wake up with an economy in the hands of foreigners.

 

It should send shivers down every sane Zimbabwean that more than 50 percent of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange’s capitalisation is directly from foreigners.

 

Given a chance, they will increase their stake to margins where they end up in total control.

 

There is therefore need to craft this all important indigenisation legislation in a manner that safeguards our businesses against foreign encroachment.

 

The blood of those that died for this country cries out against such neo-colonial designs.

 

I am convinced that the reason why South Africa is being taunted as a jewel of racial harmony is because not much has been done to address the issue of indigenous empowerment, save for window dressing Black Economic Empowerment programmes that have not fundamentally ushered in new wealth ownership patterns.

 

That ghost will haunt our neighbours for a long time until they wake up to the reality that you cannot claim total independence until you have addressed the issue of ownership of a country’s means of production.

 

One good day the chickens will certainly come home to roost.

 

Nigel Chanakira is a lesson given to Zimbabwe and its neighbours to take cues from.

 

The Kingdom story is a benchmark that the indigenous corporate world must stand by if black empowerment is to be redressed.

 

President Mugabe has got it right when he is says, ”wealth to the people.”

Nigel Chanakira will always be remembered as ‘a victim of some calculated neo-colonial deception.’

 

This encroachment on our wealth as Zimbabweans should be guarded against jealously.

 

The Kingdom stake was almost sold for a plate of soup.

A fact that indigenous Zimbabweans should not ignore stands out solely, ‘nyama inogona kubvutwa negondo wakaibata mumaoko.’

This is a chunk we cannot afford to have snatched right from under our nose.