420 SAPO branches set to close across the country - Natasha Mazzone

DA MP says business rescue practitioners also plan to retrench 6 000 workers

Uncaring ANC plans to destroy 6 000 livelihoods, as 420 SAPO branches set to close across the country

24 November 2023

Yesterday, the South African Post Office (SAPO) released its business rescue plan. Its business rescue practitioners, Anoosh Roolpal and Juanito Damons, set out plans to retrench 6 000 workers and close to 420 branches across the country.

This is nothing short of devastating; but has been long in the making, due to ANC maladministration. These interventions will worsen our unemployment crisis, as well as worsen circumstances for the vulnerable that rely on the Post Office. In addition to providing postal services, SASSA beneficiaries collect social grants from the Post Office.

Beneficiaries in rural communities already travelled long distances out of their own pockets due to branch closures. Plans announced yesterday of further branch closures will make commutes completely unaffordable. In urban communities, this will mean longer queues and wait times. We already see beneficiaries queue for whole days and often for days on end.

SAPO received R7.9 billion from taxpayers from 2014 - 2019 and has only continued to deteriorate. SAPO was provisionally liquidated this February, as it defaulted on its R12.5 billion debt. It then received R2.4 billion in the National Budget, with a further R3.8 billion expected in the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS).

Despite this, 396 branches across the country have closed since 2020, and 6 000 workers have been retrenched. There are now more closures and retrenchments expected, as SAPO plans to cut a further R1.2 billion from its costs. SAPO did not receive funds in MTBPS, which is conditional for its business rescue plan to have a chance. We are all aware of the country’s fiscal situation due to the ANC. As matters now unfold, there may soon be no South African Post Office at all.

The DA urgently calls on the Minister of Communications & Digital Technologies, Mondli Gungubele, to address the public on the following:

1. His plans to address SAPO branch closures for customers, who rely on SAPO for postal services and to collect social grants;

2. Whether retrenched SAPO workers will receive retrenchment packages and other support, as SAPO already could not pay its taxes, pension fund or medical aid scheme;

3. As SAPO has no means of financial sustainability, what this will mean for the SAPO Amendment Bill;

4. What SAPO’s deterioration means for the South African Postbank, which is owed R3.2 billion by SAPO;

5. Whether SAPO’s Executive will be reduced or see pay cuts to reduce its wage bill, as its CEO currently earns R4 million.

South Africans must also have their say in this impending crisis by ensuring that they are registered to vote for next year’s Elections. Next year, South Africans will be presented with an opportunity to rescue South Africa, and we must vote for a DA-led Government.

Statement issued by Natasha Mazzone MP - DA Shadow Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, 24 November 2023