SAPO Business Rescue off to a false start – Natasha Mazzone

DA MP says National Treasury mum on the R3,8bn conditional bailout

SAPO Business Rescue off to a false start, as National Treasury mum on conditional bailout

12 December 2023

Last week, as per Section 152 of the Companies Act, creditors of the South African Post Office (SAPO) voted and approved its business rescue plan. As has been mentioned, the plan seeks to close 420 branches and retrench 6 000 workers. Importantly, the plan is also conditional on the R3.8 billion bailout from National Treasury. The funds were announced in July by the Minister of Communications & Digital Technologies, Mondli Gungubele, and were meant to be included in the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement. We are of course aware of the fiscal situation the ANC has placed the Republic in; there is no money.

In today’s Committee meeting, I questioned the Minister, Director General and SAPO’s business rescue practitioners on the whereabouts of the funds. The response was that discussions were to be held with Cabinet. This effectively means that SAPO’s business rescue plan is built on sand and is conditional on funds that do not yet exist. SAPO’s survival is even more worrying.

In response to my questions, the Minister was also keen on lecturing on the nonsensicalness of privatising SAPO as being anti-poor, as well as job losses being worthwhile towards the viability of the Post Office. This coming from a Minister whose business rescue plan is unfunded.

While Government obfuscates, we already see the real-world implications of a failing Post Office. Since the pandemic, almost 400 branches have closed, as customers are forced to travel long distances to use the Post Office. Included in this cohort are SASSA-grant recipients, who as announced yesterday, will no longer be able to draw their grants from the Post Office as of next year. Interestingly, the Department so opposed to the private sector touts the various retailers where recipients can access grants. These are retailers that have stepped in because of a failing Post Office.

To grant recipients, the DA encourages that you open bank accounts at reputable banks. This way, you can apply to switch payment options and receive grants directly. Recipients can also use retailers – Boxer, Pick n Pay, Spar, Shoprite, Checkers or Usave.

To SAPO employees, the DA has your back and is fighting in your corner, as you close the year with such terrible news. We will continue to hold the ANC to account for its failures and ensure that retrenched employees receive the packages they deserve.

Issued by Natasha Mazzone, DA Shadow Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, 12 December 2023