The South African Post Office (Sapo) owes suppliers R780m and it had nearly reached a grinding halt during the industrial action last year. This was revealed on Wednesday when Sapo came to brief the Select Committee on Communications and Public Enterprises on its annual performance plan and strategic plan.
Sapo Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mlungisi Mathonsi told the Committee that the 10 months he had been in charge had been challenging and that he could not downplay the impact of the turbulence that the organisation and stakeholders had suffered.
“The Post Office was on the brink of collapse. A lot of effort has been put into correcting the situation from both Sapo and the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS),” Mr Mathonsi said.
Committee member Mr Aumsensingh Singh commented that the R780m owed to suppliers is a cause for concern.
“How do you intend paying your creditors while sustaining daily operations at the Post Office?” he asked.
Mr Singh also sought clarity on the working relationship with the unions and whether they had all been consulted on the turnaround strategy.
“If they had been consulted does Sapo have a buy-in from them on the strategy?” he asked.
Committee member Mr Jonas Pakis sought clarity on the challenge of revenue declining while operational costs rose.
“Resolving this situation will not be through the Holy Spirit only something has to be done,” he said.
Mr Mathonsi outlined some of the challenges facing the Post Office as unstable leadership (four CEOs in three years, and frequent changes on the board), inadequate funding, inflexible operating model, execution capability, and the declining mail which is the main source of revenue for Sapo.
Members sought clarity on vacancies, image of the Post Office, and the changing environment of the postal services and whether legislation needed relooking.
The Chairperson of the Committee, Ms Ellen Prins, asked when will board members be appointed.
“If there is no permanency even at management level, who will implement the decisions of the board? The task should be to stabilise the institution to make it possible for the turnaround strategy to be implemented, otherwise it will not help the country,” Ms Prins said.
Source : Parliament of South Africa