Durban — Despite facing a looming provisional liquidation, expected to take place in June, the post office has promised its customers that it will continue to provide services such as grant payments and chronic medication distribution to those who need them.
This was after the South African Post Office (Sapo) has reportedly been placed under provisional liquidation, after a successful court application by one of its creditors, to whom it owed rent.
Sapo reportedly owes its creditors R4.4 billion, and in February the organisation announced plans to cut 6 000 jobs, which was later reduced to 1 724.
This is despite receiving a bailout of more than R2bn from the National Treasury in the February budget.
Sapo spokesperson Suzie Khumalo said: “The post office has been successful in cutting other costs, reducing expenses to 25% below budget. However, the salary costs make up 68% of total expenditure and need to be addressed urgently.”
Communications Workers’ Union (CWU) general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala said the uncertainty over the organisation had naturally left many workers anxious and in a state of panic.
“This is an issue that has been going on for over a year, and creditors have found a way for the post office to pay them. The concern is how long the provisional liquidation will last, and when the post office will be financially stable and independent,” he said.
Tshabalala further said he wanted to have a conversation with Sapo to establish how the debt would be settled and how the bailout would help ensure that it became financially stable. The network was shrinking – 6 000 jobs were still on the line.
Tshabalala added: “It is a very depressing time for our members and general Sapo workers.”
The matter will return to court on June 1, when liquidation might be implemented.
Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana allocated Sapo R2.4bn in bailouts in this year’s Budget on condition it implements its turnaround strategy and brings down its spending.
Last year, he said Sapo’s expenditure was expected to decrease at an average annual rate of 4.8%, from R7bn in 2020/21 to R6bn in 2024/25.
“This is mainly due to a decrease in spending on compensation of employees, from R4bn in 2021/22 to R2.7bn in 2024/25, due to the staff optimisation project, which will see the number of employees decrease from 16 275 in 2021/22 to a projected 10 254 in 2024/25,” Godongwana said.
DA spokesperson on Communications Dianne Kohler Barnard said that the DA was against any form of bailout, and would call on Godongwana to confirm that there was no new bailout for Sapo.
“While the liquidators seek a payout for their client, we equally hope that not only are personal debts covered for those who rented properties for post office branches, but that the post office employees’ and retired workers’ medical aid, UIF and pension contributions that the management has carefully and criminally failed to pay over for a number of years, are met in full,” she said.
Kohler Barnard said the DA stood firm in its belief that the post office, being one of the many bottomless pit state-owned entities battling operational issues, was beyond repair, and should be liquidated.
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