Mutsekwa says plans underway to reverse seizure of Meikles group

kingdom_meiklesUsing a controversial anti-corruption law, a recently published government gazette effectively seized the assets of one of the country's largest companies, Kingdom Meikles, which is listed on stock exchanges in both Harare and London.

The group of companies comprising Kingdom Meikles, Tanganda Tea, Thomas Meikles Centre and Murlis Investments were all listed as specified, allowing the government to place them under administration. This is a move that has been condemned by the business community who say it erodes much needed investor confidence in the country. The Home Affairs Ministers, Kembo Mohadi and Giles Mutsekwa, both authorised the seizure, after the group of companies was accused of externalising foreign currency. But on Friday Mutsekwa admitted on the Hot Seat programme that he made a serious blunder by only listening to CEO Nigel Chanakira, when he co-authorised the specification order. The Minister also disclosed that there are plans to reverse the seizure order, after company Chairman John Moxon agreed to pay back the externalised funds.

He said it was a tough decision to authorise the seizure of such a big company, but that it had to be done because it had committed a serious crime by externalising US$21 million.

He added: Apparently what has been taking place is that we have been listening to only one person who is an aggrieved character (Chanakira) and we took him for granted. Being a Christian everybody thought he was up to his works, but ever since the gazette of that instrument the other side has also approached me and we have held very high level meetings and I now understand that it was not all that I was being told by the first side, that is correct.

The co-minister said it was not easy to make contact with the company Chairman, Moxon, who is based outside the country. Moxon has now assured the Minister that he is willing to payback what ever the country was deprived of. So I am happy as the Minister that everything is on course and I have advised to take certain procedures so that we rectify the issue.

When asked if this meant the specification order was going to be reversed, the Minister responded by saying: I am saying precisely that and as I said, the happiest news from the second player is that he recognises that he is indebted to Zimbabwe and during my discussions with his emissaries there was an indication, a very honest indication, that whatever Zimbabwe was prejudiced of would be made good.

Mutsekwa denied he was reversing the order because of enormous pressure from his party, who on Thursday issued a statement condemning the inclusive governments mafia-style grab of the assets of the Meikles group of companies.

The MDC statement read: The co-Ministers of Home Affairs Hon Kembo Mohadi and Hon Giles Mutsekwa have more pressing issues to attend to than seizing the assets of private companies. Zimbabweans want to see a professional police force that enforces the rule of law without fear or favour. They want to see perpetrators of violence brought to book. They want to see a corrupt-free police force which professionally discharges its duties. These are the issues that must grab the attention of the ministers, rather than the unbridled pursuit of private property.

Mutsekwa also talked about the challenges he is facing to bring back law and order in the country and the difficulties of working with a police force that is combative and is offended if ZANU PF is offended. Despite lack of evidence on the ground he claimed he has managed to bring to book 75% of the perpetrators of political violence, but said the rest is in the hands of the Justice Ministry, especially the Attorney Generals office.

Post published in: Economy

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