Post Office slammed over plan to close 130 branches
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The South African Post Office (Sapo) came under criticism over its plan to close down 80 more of its branches nationwide.
The DA and the EFF said on Thursday the closure of the post office branches will have serious consequences for social grant beneficiaries and rural areas.
On Wednesday, Independent Media quoted SAPO CEO Nomkhita Mona as saying that their targeted number of branches to close down was 130. Mona said there was still 80 more to be closed.
She also said there were a lot of reasons for the closures, including a lack of profitability and that there were too many within a short distance of each other in terms of radius.
The branches are to be closed despite Postbank hoping to leverage on the footprint that allowed the Post Office to reach every corner of the country and assist the unbanked to participate in the economy.
In a statement, DA MP Bridget Masango said the closure of Sapo branches could be potentially catastrophic to the distribution of social grants.
“Sapo was ultimately awarded the contract to distribute grants exactly because of its wide footprint through the country and its ability to reach millions of poor South Africans in the most rural of communities.
“The closure of these cash distribution points will potentially leave vulnerable grant recipients in a lurch,” Masango said.
She also said she would be submitting parliamentary questions to the departments of Social Development and Communications to find out what contingency plans have been put in place for the payment of social grants which may be affected by these closures.
“The closure of these post offices is yet another classic example of how poorly the ANC government runs SOEs and unfortunately, as is often the case, it is the poor and vulnerable who bear the brunt,” Masango said.
Making her members’ statement in the National Assembly, EFF MP Ntombovuyo Mente said the closure of the post office branches should worry all.
“The rapid closure of post office branches in many townships and rural communities has serious consequences,” Mente said.
She said the branches were used to access the internet, receive parcels and post applications for jobs, among other things.
“Our people depend on post office branches as a place to collect their social grants,” she said, adding that the government was now closing the post offices and contributing to the decline in economic activities in rural areas.
Mente said the governing party was preoccupied with a backward, neo-liberal agenda and their objective was to run every thing down.
“We have said it before as the EFF to revive the post office, compel the national departments, provinces, municipalities and state-owned entities to use post offices services where practical.
“The Post Office should prioritise building internal capacity to first service the government.
’’Then we will see spin-offs and revive the Post Office’s functional network and branches all over the country. That is the only way we can revive this thing called the post office,” Mente said.