Zimbabwe Banking Mogul Regrets Spending on Planes as Empire Haemorrhaged

HARARE – Nigel Chanakira, one of Zimbabwe’s best-known bankers whose financial services empire collapsed in 2013, has told a local newspaper that he regrets spending on planes just before Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited (KFHL) collapsed in 2013.

In a shocking disclosure that mirrors the extravagancy that is rife in corporate Africa, the banker said he also regretted selling his banking group at the height of its troubles.

However, he said he was under so much pressure to move on after the world came crashing around him as his empire struggled to absorb shocks around an acrimonious separation with John Moxon’s Meikles Africa Limited.

This was after a brief merger in 2007.

Zimbabwe was also in the midst of a banking crisis in the mid-2000s.

He says in hindsight, he thinks he should have drafted in his wife into the KFHL board as she may have asked him to stop selling the banking empire.

“I have owned aircraft, that is not profitable,” Chanakira told the daily, NewsDay on Wednesday.

“It was for fun and it was a good idea. I had six aircraft at one point. Those are mistakes. Why? Because I was just fascinated with aircraft,” he said.

“I ended up swapping those six aircrafts for a couple of cars with a colleague of mine who was passionate about the airline industry. So, talk about mistakes, I have them, I have a whole box full of them,” he said.

“I didn’t have to sell Kingdom, I sold Kingdom to AfrAsia and when I look back in 2020 in hindsight, I should have been smarter even in the way I dealt with that particular incident.

I should have just down-scaled it and turned it into a micro-finance enterprise or something like that before relaunching it, but there was just so much stress and too many shareholders and too many disputes, I had had enough of the corporate world and my battles are well known.”

Chanakira burst onto Zimbabwe’s financial scene in 1995 with his Kingdom Securities, an asset manager that popularised stockmarket among black Zimbabweans with a programme on local TV called Making Money Make Sense, NewsDay said.

In 2013, Chanakira sold Crustmoon Investments (Pvt) Ltd, his family’s investment vehicle’s 30 percent stake in AfrAsia Kingdom Zimbabwe Limited after failing to capitalise the bank.

“I like to look at what Kingdom did, I have won all business awards in Zimbabwe, all of them except Farmer of the Year, Miner of the Year and Manufacturer of the Year, because I wasn’t there, but you name it — Best CEO, Best Bank, Top Director, Top Company on the Stock Exchange, I won all business awards to God’s glory,” he said.

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