HomeBusiness DigestMarket sentiment a hurdle for Mliswa ambition

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LAST year Temba Mliswa announced that he owned an 8% stake in Premier Banking Corporation.

After the announcement, the bank quickly refuted the claims saying the fitness expert-cum-politician did not own any shares in the financial services group.
And then came good news for Mliswa. Along with Rainbow Tourism Group chief executive officer Chipo Mtasa, Philip Chiyangwa, Langton Nyatsambo and Rugare Chidembo, Mliswa had acquired a 10% stake in Meikles Africa Ltd.
The acquisition came after a fight had erupted in the then merged Kingdom Meikles Ltd pitting Nigel Chanakira and John Moxon.
The battle had forced Econet Wireless Holdings to sell its 10% stake in the merged group to the consortium.
Many wondered if Moxon, a bastion of conservatism, would be able to work with the consortium comprising of people like Mliswa, who is an outspoken Zanu PF member.
When the market had just about forgotten about the deal, Mliswa hit the headlines again with an announcement that he is now a board member of Meikles Ltd, a well-respected entity in the market.
Naturally, with 10% shareholding, the consortium would have to appoint some of its people to the board. But the market had not anticipated that Mliswa would be one of them.
While little is known about Mliswa’s educational background and professional career, he is known for getting things done.
This can be evidenced by the success of his company Saltlakes Tobacco. His resumé reads like a success story.
He is credited with establishing Spring Holdings Pvt Ltd, which is made up of Spring Farm, Spring Service Station and Spring Resort.
According to the state daily, the Herald, the Saltlakes boss is a “successful farmer growing maize crop on 300 hectares annually and practices mixed farming on a commercial basis”.
He is founding CEO and current executive chairman of Cubs Den Consolidated Holdings, which was a successful vehicle in acquiring Saltlakes and has three subsidiaries namely Saltlakes Tobacco, Saltlakes Advisory and Saltlakes Implements.
“In the 2007-2008 season, Saltlakes, under the leadership of Mr Mliswa, accounted for about 10% market share of the tobacco industry and runs the biggest tobacco small-scale scheme with 7 000 farmers,” the state daily said.
The businessman is a shareholder in Meikles Ltd, Aqua Crystal, Afriven Private Ltd, Benbar and Nosho Motors.
He is chairman of Afriven, a South African-based firm with interests in African Beef Corporation, Sachi and Sach, Mediterranean Shipping Company and Tristar Group Holdings Ltd.
According to the same press report, Tristar is strategically positioning itself for major investments in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, Ghana and Mozambique.
In addition, Mliswa is chairman of Hurungwe Development Association and a member of the Crocodile Farmers Association.
He is founder of Global Fitness and holds several sports qualifications. But his resumé might not be enough to get him a seat on the board.
According to a source close to the board appointment issue, Mliswa’s consortium is keen on getting him a board seat but he has not been appointed to the board yet.
Firstly, Meikles would have to call for an ordinary meeting for shareholders and get them to vote for a resolution relating to board appointments. When Meikles chooses to go via that route, Mliswa’s problem could begin. He would have to satisfy all key shareholders’ approval ratings and convince them he can bring value to the board chaired by the likes of Farai Rwodzi, a respected banker.
Onias Makamba, a banker, also sits on the board along with Chidembo, another corporate child.
A few years back, Interfresh had a similar situation where shareholders with as much as an 18% stake in the company had written demanding three sits on the board in line with their shareholding.
DZHL chief Anthony Mandiwanza and two other directors came to the Annual General Meeting (AGM) with their guns loaded and left disappointed. Other shareholders had voted them off the board. It was a curious case of a significant shareholder failing to get board representation. After some years holding on to the shares, DZHL a month ago opted out of the company.
There could now be a repeat of that episode but this time with different characters and settings. Inside the consortium itself, there is consensus that Mliswa is their choice.
Others say this will be a shareholders’ issue and also relates to the final de-specification of Moxon. Moxon would want his interests represented as well and cannot get good representation as a specified person.
Already the consortium —Loackape — is said to have written to Meikles chairman Rwodzi.
But sources say Meikles shareholders such as Moxon are treating the requisition with an open mind. And Moxon is also possibly aware that there is no hard and fast rule that new shareholders must have a seat or more on the board.
Mliswa would have to get votes from other shareholders as well apart from his own camp and the man who calls the shots at the company — Moxon — is the key to appointments. He has more voting power and his vote means everything.
If Mliswa does not for some reason end up on the board,  Loackape Investments, the investment vehicle the consortium used to acquire the Meikles stake, would be left with Mtasa, Chiyangwa and Nyatsambo for the position.
But Mtasa cannot sit on the board of Meikles for clear reasons: conflict of interests. And she possibly knows that and has taken a back seat in Loackape and is only a company secretary.
Another candidate would be Nyatsambo, who has interest in telecommunications and has done very well as an entrepreneur but would have to be accepted by other shareholders. 
The last on the Loackape list would be Chiyangwa, a successful businessman in his own right, who has vast interests in the property market. He owns Pinnaccle Properties and engineering firms such as Crittal Hope and Zeco Holdings listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.
He might be suitable for the position but like Mliswa has to shake off market sentiment. Chiyangwa is said to be President Robert Mugabe’s nephew and was a Zanu-PF provincial chairman before he was arrested on espionage charges a few years back. He was later acquitted.
It seems Loackape’s choice might have to be Mliswa.

Chris Muronzi


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