HARARE - Meikles Limited (Meikles) executive chairman John Moxon claims there are elements with “negative agendas” behind the group’s saga involving its nearly $90 million debt owed by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).
This comes as Meikles was suspended from the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) over concerns that it inflated the RBZ debt, but the suspension was lifted a week later after the group successfully challenged the action in the High Court.
However, the saga rages on, with the ZSE giving the diversified group an ultimatum — until March 2 — to explain how the 16-year old debt ballooned to $87 million from around $25 million in 1998.
In a new twist likely to escalate contention over the matter, Moxon said “there are now too many bees around swarming the Meikles honeypot”.
“Some of them have negative agendas which in the end will not only damage Meikles, but all, Zimbabwe as a nation in its search for further investment,” he said in his updated statement on the issue.
He said information presented to Parliament, prior to the group’s suspension from the bourse, is “completely inaccurate insofar as the amount owing to Meikles is concerned”.
“This comment is made in the knowledge that whoever was responsible for advising Parliament on the amount due to Meikles failed to provide Parliament with an accurate position on the matter,” he added.
Moxon said he did not understand why Bikita West legislator and former RBZ employee Munyaradzi Kereke alleged that Meikles had overstated the debt, and questioned why regulatory bodies involved had put faith in Kereke — “a man unknown to Meikles and who never had any interaction with Meikles”.
The Meikles boss also argues that the RBZ debt — including accrued interest — was agreed with central bank officials, and while Meikles had accepted the agreement, it in fact short-changed the group, as the interest accrued was at a lesser rate than the cost of borrowing to the company.
“The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has, for a long period, been a delinquent debtor to Meikles as it has failed to perform in terms of returning funds owing to Meikles despite demands appropriate to the return of a call deposit,” he said.
Upon lifting the suspension, ZSE chief executive Alban Chirume — a former chief executive of capital markets regulator, the Securities Commission of Zimbabwe — said the “decision to reverse the temporary suspension was necessitated by the fact that Meikles was not given an opportunity to make representations in terms of the ZSE Listings Requirements prior to the temporary suspension…”
However, following the suspension, Moxon said the group was rethinking on its continued listing on the bourse, adding that they had put on hold expansion plans and intentions to list one of its subsidiaries on the ZSE.
“The strategy... which was aimed at further expansion in the subsidiaries, the introduction of more investor capital and possibly to even list one subsidiary on the ZSE are on hold for the time being due to present uncertainty,” he said, further stating that there was “now uncertainty as to whether the group’s planned strategy will be feasible, if so, when”.