Reader’s letter: Now just an empty ‘Shell’


Hercules of Centurion writes:

I don’t have a crystal ball and I’m not a prophet of doom either, but reading the report in particular Image on May 6 the orange lights start flashing.

Shell Downstream South Africa is to withdraw from South Africa. Sources claim this is due to (weak) business confidence in the country. The question is who will buy Shell’s interests?

Thebe Investments is Shell’s BEE partner and now wants to sell its 28% stake. Thebe claims the stake is worth around R4 000 million while Shell says it is closer to R1 460 million. Report already reported on 5 May 2024 that Shell was considering withdrawing from South Africa after a dispute arose between it and its BEE partner Thebe Investments.

SAFTU is already grumbling because if Shell were to withdraw, the jobs of thousands of workers would be at risk – and that cannot and must not happen. Trevor Shaku, SAFTU’s spokesperson says that if there is no other company to take over Shell’s interests, the “state should not leave itself out of the picture”.

The government has already established a fuel company called SANPC (South African Petroleum Company). Without starting a rumour, could the SANPC take over Shell’s stake? It is doubtful whether the government has enough money available to carry out such a takeover, in which case the PIC may be approached to make funds available to the SANPC.

We as public service pensioners should be concerned, because there is no proof that such an investment will yield the necessary dividend – not when the history of investments by the PIC is kept in mind.

People should also keep in mind that the PIC is a state corporation run by cadres. Cadres led by the deputy finance minister as chairman and who also consider the public service pension fund as the government’s piggy bank with abundant funds.