700 000 social relief grants uncollected

By Mayibongwe Maqhina for IOL

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has revealed that more than 700 000 beneficiaries have not collected their R350 social relief of distress grants from the South African Post Office (SAPO).

EFF MP Rosina Ntshetsana Komane wrote to Zulu asking about the number of beneficiaries who were approved to receive the grant and were yet to claim their money.

Komane also asked about the measures her department has put in place to ensure that all those entitled to the grant accessed it.

The grant was introduced as a temporary relief measure for those who lost economic opportunities and were adversely affected after the outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020.

In February, President Cyril Ramaphosa extended the grant until March 2023 and Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana allocated R44 billion for the 12-month extension while a long-term social assistance approach was considered.

In her written reply, Zulu said a total of 771 089 had not collected their R350 grant since it was first introduced.

“According to the reconciliation received from the SA Post Office (SAPO), a total of 328 477 beneficiaries have yet to collect their grant from the first cycle which ended 30 April 30 2021 and 442 602 from the second cycle which covers the period from August 2021 to March 2022,” she said.

Zulu also said approval was recently provided to SAPO, in line with the directions published on February 10, for beneficiaries from the first cycle to be paid their funds should they report to the Post Office.

The minister said beneficiaries could have the grants paid directly into their personal bank accounts and through the Post Office.

“Currently, of the 10 563 123 approved beneficiaries, 42% collect their grants through the post office while 58% receive the grant in their own personal bank accounts,” she said in reference to the 4.4 million beneficiaries paid via the Post Office.

Zulu also said beneficiaries could access their grants through the retailers such as Pick n Pay, Boxer, Checkers, Shoprite and Usave.

“Negotiations with the Spar group to also allow access to the relief grant are at an advanced stage and further announcements will be made shortly.”

Zulu said the South African Social Security Agency was also finalising the contracting with banks to allow for the payment to be made to mobile phones.

“This channel will be available for the extension of the grant from April 2022 to March 2023.”

Zulu said: “These channels have all contributed to the significant improvement in reducing the queues at Post Offices, and provide a range of options for approved beneficiaries to be able to access their grants conveniently.”

Meanwhile, a total of 51 Post Office branches were closed between 2020 and 2021 with Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal leading the pack with 21 and 16 respectively.

Responding to parliamentary questions from DA MP Bridget Masango, Zulu said Sassa was no longer growing the customer base for the Post Office with new social grant beneficiaries in light of current challenges experienced by the entity.

“This decision was taken by Sassa in 2020 to afford the Post Office an opportunity to review their systems and strategies going forward,” she said.

Zulu also said since the contract with Cash Paymaster Services was terminated, Sassa ensured that the social grants were paid into the beneficiaries’ special disbursement accounts handled by SAPO and into beneficiaries’ private bank accounts on a monthly basis.

“Of the approximately 7 million accounts opened within the SAPO environment for social grant beneficiaries, only 10% actually utilise the post office branches or cash pay points to access their funds.

“The remaining beneficiaries already access their grants through the National Payment System at bank ATMs and merchant point of sale devices,” she said.


Mark Barnes offers to buy the Post Office

By Carol Paton for News24

Financial services entrepreneur Mark Barnes has offered to buy a majority stake in the SA Post Office to save and modernise the institution, which is in deep financial trouble.

Barnes was CEO of the Post Office from 2014 to 2019. He resigned before his five-year term had elapsed after he failed to win the confidence of political leaders for his vision for the Post Office and its subsidiary, Postbank. The Post Office is in a dire financial position, with losses of R1.76 billion in 2020/21, and has stopped payments to SA Revenue Service (SARS) and medical aids for its employees due to a shortage of funds.

It is also in arrears on medical aid contributions on behalf of its workers to the tune of R600 million.

His proposal, which he made in a letter to Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, is that he lead a consortium to raise capital to buy between 60% and 75% of the Post Office in a public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement.

Ten percent of the total issued shares would be allocated directly to employees. The price will be determined by the net asset value less the projected losses, as per the Auditor General. The consortium would, in turn, invest capital equal to projected losses.

It would continue to operate as an organ of state, which would imply – as it does at present – certain entrenched rights and obligations. While it would operate for profit, the rights and obligations – for instance, to provide certain low cost financial and other services – would act as a brake on profit-taking.

Barnes proposes that the Postbank remain a subsidiary of the Post Office and that he be appointed CEO and that a new board be put in place.

While he made the offer some time ago, he has now publicised his proposal in a column in Business Day.

In an interview on Thursday, Barnes said that people have been unable to get their minds around a business model of the Post Office that was different from the “Post Office of yore”.

“There is nothing left like that in the world. The Post Office is a connection between certain services and people. People choose the Post Office because it is convenient, trusted and not exploitative… Yes, if the Post Office goes bankrupt, the private sector will step in. But it step in only to provide services to 10% of the population.”
– Mark Barnes
There are two important things the Post Office can do in a modern era: act as connection point for physical exchange of goods; and act as a virtuous repository of people’s data, he noted.

“No matter how technologically advanced society becomes, a physical connection point for a exchange of goods is still required. Potential investors would like be large, global e-commerce companies which need that physical connection,” he said.

Barnes added:”The future of commerce is data. At the core of the most valuable companies in the world is data. The Post Office is one of the biggest data repositories in the country and has more branches than any entity.”

South African Post Office on the edge

The South African Post Office is experiencing a meltdown with branches unable to serve clients, service providers not being paid, and mass branch shutdowns, according to a recent article by MyBroadband.

  • In April 2021, Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke revealed that the South African Post Office is commercially insolvent
  • In the 2019/2020 financial year, the Post Office incurred losses of over R1.7-billion
  • Its liabilities exceeded its assets by R1.5-billion
  • Most Post Offices had signs about service delivery problems in their windows
  • Some branches have no electricity
  • Vehicle license services are often offline
  • Employees allege that pension fund deductions are taken from their salaries but that these deductions are not paid into these pension funds
  • Landlords and service providers are struggling to get money from the Post Office
  • Unpaid invoices total R638-million
  • SA Post Office CEO Nomkhita Mona blamed the Post Office’s dire financial situation on an outdated business model and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic

Source: MyBroadband

The South African Post Office (SAPO) is on the verge of financial collapse and has closed numerous branches after failing to pay rent.

A recent presentation at the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee revealed just how big a financial mess the Post Office is in.

Over the last three months, the Post Office posted a net loss of R429 million, while its year-to-date net loss increased to R1.354 billion.

“The year-to-date revenue recovery remains sluggish and insufficient to meet all operating costs,” the SAPO said.

“The revenue shortfall contributes to cash deficits to pay suppliers and service providers, including employee benefit contributions.”

The South African Post Office’s creditors and accruals as of 30 September 2020 increased to R1.774 billion.

One of the results of this financial crunch is that the SA Post Office is not paying rent and has closed around 55 branches because of arrears.

Some landlords have even seized equipment and kicked out the Post Office from their malls for not paying rent.

Notices on the doors of many SA Post Office branches now state “Closed until further notice” without a clear indication of where people can now get services from.

The SA Post Office previously told MyBroadband it is in discussions with the landlords to resolve the disputes with the intention of re-opening the branches.

Employees are also suffering. Pension fund and medical aid contributions are deducted from workers’ salaries, but this money is not paid over to the relevant institutions.

David Mangena, general secretary of the South African Postal Workers Union, told Rapport the Post Office has failed to make payments for some workers as far back as March 2020.

Mangena added that communication with the institution has broken down and that they had to hear via the media about the new Post Office CEO.

The financial collapse of the Post Office should, however, not come as a surprise.

DA’s shadow deputy minister of communications and digital technologies, Cameron MacKenzie, warned earlier this year the institution was on the brink of collapse.

MacKenzie said the Post Office was struggling with unpaid rentals, desperate suppliers, postal backlogs, and broken ICT systems.

The SAPO, MacKenzie said, is facing bankruptcy despite receiving R8 billion in bailouts since 2014.

He said in the absence of any further funding and expenses far exceeding revenue, the Post Office is resorting to the only means to stay afloat – stop paying creditors.

MacKenzie urged the government to start implementing productive public-private partnerships and social compacts to save the SA Post Office.

The SA Post Office is hanging its hat on its newly appointed CEO, Nomkhita Mona, to solve these problems.

Mona has served as the CEO of the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber since December 2017, following three years at the helm of the South African Forestry Company (SAFCOL).

She has also been CEO at various other organisations – including The UDDI, Inkezo Land Company, and the Eastern Cape Tourism Board.

MyBroadband asked the SA Office for comment about its financial challenges, but it did not respond by the time of publication.


SA Post Office on the brink of collapse

Source: MyBroadband

The South African Post Office (SAPO) is on the brink of collapse and is facing bankruptcy despite receiving R8-billion in bailouts since 2014.

This is a warning from the DA’s shadow deputy minister of communications and digital technologies, Cameron MacKenzie.

According to MacKenzie, there are reports of unpaid rentals and desperate suppliers, postal backlogs, and broken ICT systems.

MyBroadband has recently reported that many landlords have seized equipment and kicked out the SA Post Office from their malls for not paying rent.

Notices on the doors of some SA Post Office branches now state “Closed until further notice” without a clear indication of where people can now get services from.

The Post Office told MyBroadband while the backlog in rental payments on other properties has been settled, the Parkview and Menlyn Main post offices were closed by the property owner as a result of a rental dispute.

“The SA Post Office is currently in discussions with the landlord to resolve the dispute with the intention of re-opening the branches shortly,” it said.

The SA Post Office’s struggles to pay rent comes as no surprise.

A recent High Court judgement revealed that the Post Office’s year-to-date loss as at 31 July 2020 was R1.066 billion. Only 55 of the Post Office’s 1,416 operational branches were profitable.

MacKenzie said in the absence of any further funding and expenses far exceeding revenue, the Post Office is resorting to the only means to stay afloat – stop paying creditors.

“Suppliers are once again being parked in a queue for payment, despite all processes required to effect payment followed, including quotation, purchase order, service delivered, and invoice presented. All that’s missing is the money to pay them,” he said.

He added that SAPO’s IT systems, including the essential on-line ‘track-and-trace’ service, remain non-functional, so customers have no idea of the status of their parcels or mail.

“COVID-19 protocols are virtually non-existent, especially during the peak grant payment periods, putting the health and welfare of staff and customers alike at risk.”

MacKenzie urged the government to start implementing productive public-private partnerships and social compacts to save the SA Post Office.

“The Department of Communications needs a new minister and the SA Post Office a new owner. If ever there was a moment to hang the sign “Under New Management”, that time is now,” he said.

MyBroadband asked the SA Post Office for comment, but it did not reply by the time of publication.

Management challenges at the Post Office
Apart from the usual suspects – corruption, mismanagement, and a bloated workforce – the Post Office has also faced a management crisis since Mark Barnes resigned as CEO.

Barnes started his five-year contract as Post Office CEO on 15 January 2016 with a mandate to turn the struggling state-owned enterprise around.

Barnes, however, resigned as CEO on 1 August 2019 – eighteen months before his contract was set to expire.

“If the government had let management get on with our board-approved, portfolio committee supported strategy, we would’ve completed the turnaround of SAPO by now. Imagine that,” he said.

Since Barnes’ departure the acting CEO, Lindiwe Kwele was suspended and the new CFO, Khathutshelo Ramukumba resigned after barely two months on the job.

Speaking to Newzroom Afrika, Barnes said he could not comment on the current challenges at the SA Post Office since he was not there.

He instead reflected on his time at the Post Office. “I fell in love with the place and the people who work there,” he said.

While on a recent trip through South Africa, he saw scraggly queues of people outside Post Offices in towns waiting to get their social grants.

“The only inclination I had was to get out of my car and go and help them and re-fuel the culture changes we brought about,” said Barnes.

“We needed all the ingredients for the Post Office to complete its turnaround strategy, but those ingredients were not made available to us by the shareholder,” he said.

Looking back at his resignation in 2019, he said it became an easy decision after he looked at the facts.

“There is no Post Office in the world which has succeeded in the new age without access to the national payment system and financial transactions,” he said.

“It is no longer about post. It is about having a government infrastructure – a series of two-way channels – which have huge relevance in the modern world.”

This means when the government decided the Post Office Bank should be held separately, Barnes could no longer promise the delivery of a fully integrated, functional, and financially sustainable Post Office.

Barnes said he believes the government’s current strategy around the Post Office is going to fail, which is why he decided to resign.


The South African Post Office (SAPO) is now able to accept debit and credit cards as a payment method for the renewal of motor vehicle licences at all its branches that offer the service.

The service is available at selected post offices in all provinces except Mpumalanga and the Western Cape. The list of branches where the service is available can be checked here.

The renewal of motor vehicle licences is the most popular transaction at Post Office branches – clear evidence of the success of this service.

If you did not receive a renewal notice, the renewal form (ALV) can also be downloaded here.

Motorists who have received a traffic fine issued in terms of the AARTO Act may pay the traffic fine at any Post Office countrywide.

SAPO CEO sets deadline to clear backlog

A backlog of millions of items still waiting to be delivered at the Johannesburg nerve centre of the Post Office is being cleared as fast as possible.

That’s according to SAPO CEO Mark Barnes, who has stated that the provider is looking to clear the backlog by 24 November 2018.

“We started off in April with a 46-million item backlog and we are now down to a 7.8-million backlog.”

The bulk of that is sitting at the Witspos Hub in Johannesburg.

SAPO defines a “backlog” as any item of post five or more days behind schedule.

Barnes says there have been some improvements in clearing the domestic mailing backlog but they still need to catch up with international deliveries.

Listen to the full interview here.

Source: Randburg Sun 

There’s a new parcel delivery scam that post office users should remain alert for and guard against, Southlands Sun reports.

The SA Post Office warned the public to be on the alert for the new scam which is designed to defraud them.

The conmen place phone calls to members of the public, alleging to be from the Customs division of the SA Post Office. The caller informs them that a parcel is ready for collection, provided they first pay ‘customs fees’ into a bank account.

The SA Post Office insisted that it does not require customers to make any bank deposit before parcels are released. In instances where a SARS levy import tax is payable on parcels from abroad, the import tax must be paid at the Post Office counter when the item is collected. The customer will receive a point-of-sale receipt for this payment.

Where the Post Office has the recipient’s cellphone number, the customer will receive an SMS requesting them to collect the parcel at a specific branch. The SMS will not request funds to be deposited into an account.

Members of the public who have information regarding this scam are requested to call the police or the Post Office’s crime buster hotline on 0800-020-070.

The SA Post Office advises the public to ignore communication of this nature.

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