Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

DA to push for inquiry into troubled SA Post Office

By ANA Reporter Time of article published Oct 14, 2020

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Johannesburg: The DA said on Wednesday it would push for a parliamentary inquiry into the South African Post Office (Sapo), which it contended was suffering from the same deep-set rot afflicting many other state-owned entities.

Last month, the National Treasury told MPs that Sapo was set to lose R2.1 billion this financial year and needed clarity on its mandate from the government if it was to resolve its problems.

The Treasury's chief director for oversight on state-owned entities Ravesh Rajlal said Sapo – which lost around R1bn last year – had been expected to register a financial loss of around R177 million for the current year before the Covid-19 crisis worsened the outlook dramatically.

On Wednesday, DA legislator and head of communications and digital technologies Cameron MacKenzie said the party recognised the strategic importance of Sapo to many South Africans as their sole connection to the formal economy, but this could not come at an unsustainable cost to the taxpayer.

“The Post Office can, and must, meet its core mandate: the delivery of parcels and mail – yet it is still losing more than a billion rand a year,” he said.

“A Parliamentary inquiry will uncover and ventilate issues by cross-examining present and past Sapo executives. This will ultimately plot a path forward that steers Sapo in the correct direction and hold those responsible for its current desperate state to account.”

He said current plans and initiatives aimed at resolving the crisis at the postal entity were long on vision but short on detail, while potential “strategic partnerships” were shrouded in secrecy.

“The government’s answer to the Sapo’s woes is to table yet another strategic turnaround plan as a means to make the entity viable and financially sustainable. Yet, the Sapo cannot even get the basics right, with a mail backlog topping three million items and simple IT systems like online track-and-trace for international parcels still offline and non-functional,” said MacKenzie.

It was also clear that the decision to turn Post Office subsidiary the PostBank into a fully-fledged transactional bank had not been properly thought through before implementation, he added.

“For example, once the department of communications realized that Sapo could not be the controlling company for the corporatised PostBank, it now faces the prospect of the Sapo Group being completely bankrupt as the Post Office on its own is not a going concern, with its liabilities far exceeding its assets,” MacKenzie said. | African News Agency/ANA

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