DURBAN - The Democratic Alliance (DA) has slammed the suspension of the South African Post Office (Sapo) chief executive Lindiwe Kwele and said it would submit an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act to request the full details behind her suspension.
Kwele was placed on suspension in December after a mere four months on the job, together with Sapo’s head of supply chain management Mothusi Motjale.
DA shadow deputy minister of communications and digital technologies Cameron Mackenzie said Sapo had provided no further details on why these individuals have been temporarily removed from their offices, with their statement only referring to an independent investigation into “unspecified matters”.
“The reasons for these suspensions are in the greater public interest and full transparency is required, “unspecified reasons” is no explanation at all. The public, which has continually funded the cash-crunched Sapo since 2014 with multi-billion rand bailouts in the past six years, none of which have delivered the promised turnaround to profit, has a right to know the true state of this organisation,” Mackenzie said.
Kwele served as the chief operating officer at Sapo before taking over from Mark Barnes who resigned in August, citing differences on a forward strategy in relation to the structure of the group, in particular the location of Postbank.
In last year’s financial results, Sapo reported a net loss of R1.17 billion despite its subsidiary Postbank reporting a R496 million in net profit for the year, up from R296m reported a year earlier.
By the end of March 2019, Postbank paid 8.3 million social grants to more than 7.7 million beneficiaries through the new Sassa card hosted on Postbank’s IT system.
Mackenzie said given the Sapo’s critical role in distributing social grants to needy recipients, this was not the time for cloak and dagger activities and full transparency is required.
“With billions of their hard-earned taxes propping up this cash-hungry state-owned entity (SOE), South Africans deserve to know why the Sapo chief executive was suspended, what the nature of the irregularities are, and if there are links between Kwele and Motjale’s suspensions and any allegations leveled against them,” Mackenzie said.
However, the general secretary of the South African Postal Workers Union (Sapwu) David Mangena said the union did not want to comment on the issues affecting the employer and employee relationship.
“The suspension was not communicated to us by the post office. We only saw the chief executive’s suspension through the media. But if the suspension is true, we think the employer has the right to discipline the employee if the post office deems it fit to do so,” Mangena said.
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