“I was not running the company,” Chanakira told more than 300 invited Managers, Chief Executives and various company bosses gathered in Harare at the five star Meikles Hotel. The tycoons were gathered for the monthly British Council’s Express Management discussion.
Chanakira was giving a talk on the “Qualities of a Successful Manager”.
Ironically the five star Meikles Hotel is among the companies that Chanakira ran while he was Chief Executive of KMAL, once Zimbabwe’s largest and most heavily capitalised firm on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE).
During its short flirtation on the bourse, KMAL was the blue-eyed boy not only of Zimbabwe but of international companies too who wanted to merge with the flamboyant diversified group.
“When I looked over my shoulder, I did not see anyone following me and I then knew that I was not managing or running anything,” Chanakira, clad in a beige designer three piece suit, said.
“If you look over your shoulder and see nobody following you then you are not running the company. You are probably only just taking a walk.”
Chanakira said the Meikles Africa Limited (MAL) Group was a “family business” and as such, it was very difficult, in fact, almost impossible to run effectively without heads and advice coming in and “from all quarters”.
“I had been a business partner with John (Moxon) for more than eight years. In fact, we had done many deals together but at KMAL there were too many heads telling me what to do,” the top banker said.
“We had our differences and in fact, technically, I was fired as CEO at Meikles. I faced a serious crisis running the huge company and there were just too many issues at stake which I will not tell right now but watch this space.”
Chanakira and Moxon, fell out with each other and decided to go their separate ways amicably.
The major bone of contention, however, was Moxon’s decision to invest in their hotel in South Africa and not in Zimbabwe.
Chanakira, as CEO, flatly refused this move and then Moxon encouraged shareholders including Strive Masiyiwa’s Econet Wireless Holdings Zimbabwe Limited (Econet) to give Chanakira the boot and ask him to leave at an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM).
He was to do so with accompanied by his fellow Kingdom Board members Callisto Jokonya and Susan Bango, now Chairperson of the original Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited (KFHL).
Meikles and Kingdom then demerged and the marriage, originally supposed to have been “made in heaven” then collapsed.
Chanakira and Moxon then immediately went their separate ways and regained control of their own companies.
Asked whether he regretted having merged with the Meikles empire, Chanakira said: “I do not regret this because I came out of the deal much richer, both financially and managerial wise. I was running the country’s largest supermarket chain in TM Supermarkets (Private) Limited, the biggest tea estates in the country, Tanganda Tea Company Limited and the best hotel in the country, the five star Meikles Hotel.
“I had a 14 percent stake in Kingdom and came out of the deal with a 44 percent stake. So can you say I am unhappy? I don’t think so. In fact I am very happy because I no longer have to face the crisis that I faced.
“In fact I tried to get to Wall Street too fast.”
Chanakira said he still intended to list his original Kingdom financial empire on Wall Street in New York in the United States of America (US). Wall Street is the best performing stock market in the world and Chanakira said he would take his time this time around to get there.
“Watch this space,” he said. “This time it won’t be that fast like during my time with Kingdom Meikles Africa Limited.”