040615 Deputy communications Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize had an interview with Business Report in Johannesburg.photo by Simphiwe Mbokazi 4
040615 Deputy communications Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize had an interview with Business Report in Johannesburg.photo by Simphiwe Mbokazi 4

SA Post Office to appoint board

By Sechaba Ka'Nkosi Time of article published May 5, 2015

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The crisis-prone SA Post Office was looking to fill its empty board and make permanent executive appointments within the next few weeks, Deputy Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize said.

In November, the entire Post Office board resigned amid a violent and unprotected four-month-long strike.

In an exclusive interview with the Business Report yesterday, Mkhize said that the government was racing against time to set up permanent leadership in the Post Office before the department’s budget speech on May 21.

Mkhize said that she had recruited up to 14 board members, including 11 non-executive directors and three executive directors.

She said she expected the Post Office to declare a R1.3 billion loss for the year to March but indicated that she expected an improvement for the new financial year.

“We need to move with speed to ensure that we stabilise leadership at the Post Office and we manage its affairs very thoroughly because the Post Office should drive economic growth in the country,” said Mkhize.

“We cannot afford the luxury of a leadership vacuum any longer.”

Mkhize said that the government had no plans to privatise the Post Office despite its extensive losses and the difficulties it faced.

The Post Office was put under the Treasury administration last year after a draft audit report by Deloitte alleged it had used the employees’ pension fund to pay off an overdraft of R250 million.

The Deloitte report also said the Post Office had incurred a R361m loss and racked up R1.2bn in irregular expenditure, including the irregular award of tenders.

The report said it spent R184m on consultants and R114m on travel. The Post Office has also seen a fair share of strikes that has cost it hundreds of millions of rands.

Mkhize said the government had decided to include unions in its strategies to ensure that it curbed the culture of strikes at the Post Office.

“The Post Office is very critical in our economic policies because it has probably the biggest footprint in the country.

“So we put an administrator in so that we can know why the Post Office is on its knees.”

Mkhize said the government was worried that the Post Office was led by a temporary executive, including an acting chief executive and chief financial officer.

The Post Office had advertised for both the chief executive and chief financial officer positions.

Her department also wanted to deal with the temporary staffers that had been working for many years.

“Those are the people you see toyi-toying all the time so we need to address that and find a permanent solution to the problems that are facing the Post Office.

“We now have a chance for the leadership, we can now have a new executive and we can then leave the acting administrator (Simo Lushaba) to focus on a turnaround strategy.”

Lushaba was appointed by Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele in November and had an initial term of three months followed by a further three-month extension for a total of a six-month term. That term ends tomorrow.

Mkhize said while the Post Office was continuing to look for permanent executive leadership, Lushaba’s mandate would be extended again for three months to ensure that he implements measures to save the Post Office from its misery.

TIMELINE

November 7, 2014 - Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele announces that the full Post Office board has resigned.

- Cwele appoints Simo Lushaba as the administrator of the Post Office with initial term of three months followed by a further three-month extension for a total of a six-month term. That term ends tomorrow.

April 1, 2015 - The Post Office dismisses six employees who violated a court order during the illegal strike, which crippled postal operations in the last quarter of 2014. This followed an internal disciplinary hearing, which resulted from a conviction by the Pretoria criminal court, on November 2014.

May 4, 2015 - Deputy Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize tells Business Report that she is ready to present a list of potential board members to Parliament.

- Mkhize also says key executive positions should be filled before the department’s budget speech on May 21.

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