Sasol’s empowerment transaction earlier this year was worth over R25 billion and added about 200 000 new shareholders to the Sasol share register. The impact at the AGM was apparently marked, with new members wanting materials in different languages and different formats.
“Why are the presentations only in English, when you have many black shareholders represented in the room?” asked another shareholder.
“You ask us to vote for or against directors but you fail to even provide us with a picture or introduce the directors we are voting on,” commented another.
Many black representatives appointed through BEE deals have been criticised for being token representatives to boards of listed companies.
Despite the description of “empowered” companies, people point out that the white directors and CEOs who still represent many of these businesses do all the talking at presentations.
The Sasol AGM took a step to dispel that impression when Benny Mokaba, executive director of Sasol, was pressed into a new role as translator.
Mokaba took responsibility for translating shareholder questions for Sasol chairperson Pieter Cox and Davies. Shareholders who had been frustrated by not having the opportunity to voice their questions in a mother tongue suddenly became confident enough to ask the questions they had sought answers for.