Harare –Botswana’s Former President Festus Mogae has been roped into the on-going legal wrangle pitting Zimbabwe’s former Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko and Choppies Enterprises.
Ex-President Mogae is a former chairperson of the retail conglomerate that operates in several SADC countries.
The wrangle revolves around Mr Mphoko’s interest in the business and its operations in Zimbabwe during the time he was VP.
Mr Mphoko has sued Choppies and entities associated with it over valuation of his shareholding in the Zimbabwe operation at the time he was forced to dispose of the equity.
Mr Mphoko says the US$2,9 million he was paid was far below the below the US$22,5 million he claims is due to him.
Zimbabwe High Court courts say they require testimony from Mr Mogae and Choppies MD Mr Ottapathu Ramachandran to make a determination in the case.
On the one hand, Mr Mogae reportedly wrote a letter indicating Mr Mphoko’s interest in Choppies amounted to seven percent equity. Mr Mphoko claims he held 51 percent.
The letter in question states, My brother, I would like to bring the following facts to our attention: We entered into this partnership with a clear understanding of the shareholding of 93 percent shares to Choppies Enterprises and seven percent to the Mphoko family, free of charge.”
Mr Mphoko has told the High Court that he held 25,5 percent, and his son Siqokoqela held another 25,5 percent through Nanavac Investments Pty ltd, while Choppies Enterprises held the remaining 49 percent.
The Mphokos allege that a dispute arose between Siqokoqela and Choppies in 2018, which saw the latter instituting legal proceedings against the former VP’s son.
“(Choppies) instituted malicious and false criminal complaints to the police resulting in the institution of the Magistrates’ Court Proceeding in Bulawayo against (Siqokoqela) and his wife. As a result of the said proceedings, the first plaintiff and his wife were arrested and detained,” the Mphokos lawyers say.
They say in January 2019, Mr Mphoko – under duress - signed a deed of settlement with Choppies Enterprises to dispose of the family’s shareholding for US$2,9 million in a bid to secure his the freedom of his son and daughter-in-law.