By Sinikiwe Marodza
Choppies Enterprise Limited, whose head quarters are in Botswana, has said it will remain operating in Zimbabwe despite the looting of its shops in the country during recent demonstrations, chief executive officer, Ramachandran Ottapathu, has said.
There have been uncertainty regarding the future of Choppies in the country following the exit of former vice president Phelekeza Mphoko as well as the recent lootings that left a number of Choppies outlets temporarily shutting down.
However, Ottapathu vowed to continue doing business in the country, despite the negative dent placed upon his brand’s association with the Mphoko family.
Recently, Ottapathu said Choppies Zimbabwe will continue operating, with the Choppies Botswana headquarters being in charge.
“Choppies Zimbabwe is now fully owned by Choppies Enterprises Limited.
“We would like to inform all our stakeholders that Honourable Phelekezela Mphoko and Mr Siqokoqela Mphoko have amicably and conclusively resolved and settled all issues, matters, cases and disputes with Nanavac Investments Private Limited, trading as Choppies Supermarket Zimbabwe, such that there are no outstanding issues between them and our company.
“The Mphokos have more over disinvested in Nanavac Investment Private Limited (Pvt) Ltd, trading as Choppies Supermarket Zimbabwe, and no further interest in the company and its business.
“Now that the matter is out of the way, Choppies will continue to explore additional business opportunities in Zimbabwe and where possible increase our foot prints.
“Zimbabwe offers great business opportunities and we are committed to work with the Government and the people of Zimbabwe to offer a win-win business environment.
“We remain focused on delivering affordable convenience and creating employment for the people of Zimbabwe," Ottapathu said.
A dark cloud has been hovering upon the regional brand which has 35 branches in Zimbabwe, as bitter local citizens did not have a clear picture concerning Choppies and Mphoko’s relations.
Ottapathu’s announcement should come as a relief to the Zimbabwean community who had blacklisted the brand.
In an interview with some Harare residents, the Botswana based businessman received showers of praise by many.
“Everyone had the mentality that Choppies was owned by Mphoko and you know with hatred people had on him.
“He was once attacked while staying at Rainbow Towers for squandering tax payers money.
“So from there he has received much attacks from concerned Zimbabweans who thought they were being robbed by him.
“This development is welcomed because Choppies will also be safe from such attacks since they were attacked because of their association with Mphoko,” said Bertha Chaparadza.
Another shopper, Nelia Ratidzo, echoed the same sentiments over Ottapathu’s statement:
“After everything that was happening around the Choppies Supermarkets, I thought this was the end of Choppies in our country.
“I am happy to learn that they will continue to do business with us,” said Ratidzo.
Rosalind Kapfudza also said: “My husband is employed by Choppies at their Mabvuku branch, and when the demonstration lootings happened I thought they were going to stop doing business in Zimbabwe.
“I was very worried because Choppies has been the hand that was feeding my family, I want to thank the Mr Ottapathu for continuing to support Zimbabwe."
Furthermore, Tafadzwa Marumahoko, who is also a regular client said: “All along I thought that Mugabe’s vice president was the man behind Choppies and I never felt sorry for those supermarkets when people burnt and looted them during the demonstrations.
“Now that I have a clear picture concerning the owners, I really feel sorry for Choppies Enterprises Limited, and I want to thank them for their decision to continue investing in our country.
“We are behind them and we will support them every step forward,” added Tafadzwa Marumahoko.
While another resident and Choppies’ customer Pascal Mutiri said: “Thank you Choppies for believing in our country.”
Meanwhile, despite facing the challenges of looting, Choppies remains one of the big brands across the SADC region with branches in Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
The brand came to Zimbabwe in 2013, where it came to 35 branches in Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare among other major cities.