Flash Briefing: SA govt plans to grab 20% of oil and gas businesses; white people, dogs ‘rescued first’ – Isis attack

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  • South Africa wants a free 20% stake in oil and gas exploration and production ventures under a new upstream petroleum bill, which allows the minister to reserve petroleum blocks for Black investors, a copy of the bill seen by Reuters showed on Friday. If the legislation is passed in its current form it could mean vast sums flow into state coffers. But it could also put off investors at a time when the world is turning away from fossil fuels due to climate change, and the impact of Covid-19 weighs on investment decisions by oil majors, says the news agency.
  • The ANC tax scandal is a far bigger deal than has been reported so far, says Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen. If any other company or organisation had collected millions in PAYE contributions from its employees and then withheld this money from SARS, they’d be in court quicker than you can say “it’s the right thing to do”. Yet the party of government has been doing exactly that, while simultaneously guilt-tripping citizens into tax compliance. Paying tax – and particularly paying South Africa’s exceptionally high tax rates – is the ultimate grudge spend. No one wants to do this, not even our self-styled socialists in red. It’s one thing to part with a third or more of your earnings if you can actually see this money reaching its intended target. But it’s an entirely different proposition to dutifully hand it over, and then see a massive chunk of it either wasted on government excess, badly spent or just plain stolen.
  • White people were given preferential treatment for evacuation in a March air rescue when Mozambique’s Palma town was raided by Islamic State-linked fighters, rights group Amnesty International has alleged. AFP news agency says that, in a report compiled from interviews with 11 black survivors, it charged that even dogs were pulled to safety ahead of black people by a helicopter that airlifted civilians from a hotel where they had sought refuge. “White contractors (were) airlifted to safety before local black people,” said Amnesty, adding the hotel manager took his two German Shepherd dogs on the rescue helicopter, leaving people behind. Dyck Advisory Group (DAG), a private company hired to help the government fight the militants and which was involved in the rescue operation, rejected the allegations.
  • Rio Tinto Group’s South African operation is facing the loss of a large bloc of Black investors, a move that would leave it below the legal minimum for Black ownership, two people familiar with the situation told Bloomberg. The main investors in Blue Horison Investments, which holds 24% of Rio-controlled titanium producer, Richards Bay Minerals, have told Rio they want to be permitted to sell a stake they value at R5.5bn ($393m) or have it bought out by RBM, the people said. The Black investors are frustrated by the suspension of dividends, partly due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and community opposition that stymied expansion plans.
  • Sasol agreed to sell a 30% stake in a natural gas pipeline running from Mozambique to South Africa for as much as R5.1bn ($361m) in order to pay down debt, reports Bloomberg. The deal rounds out an accelerated asset-sale program that has helped Sasol reduce borrowings that ballooned amid cost overruns at a giant US chemicals project and call off a proposed $2bn share sale. The company started hunting for a buyer for its pipeline shares last year as it examined ways to bolster its finances amid mounting pressure from creditors. Sasol will sell part of its stake in the Rompco pipeline to a group of buyers including a unit of South African financial-services firm Old Mutual, it said in a statement Friday.

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