Another SAPO bailout: DA calls for accountability

Issued by Dianne Kohler Barnard MP – DA Shadow Minister of Communications
27 Feb 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Dianne Barnard Kohler MP.

The DA is appalled by the recent announcement from the Minister of Finance that the South African Post Office (SAPO) will receive yet another bailout, this time of R2.6 billion. This despite previous, firm commitments to end bailouts due to ongoing corruption, irregular expenditure and general financial chaos at the SAPO.

Year after year, the SAPO has requested and received massive bailouts  while failing utterly to improve its operations.

For instance, in 2022, they requested R3.4 billion, and in 2021, they asked for R8 billion, and in 2020 they sought R4.9 billion. The SAPO’s continuous mismanagement and corruption have resulted in a planned 40% salary reduction for employees and the potential loss of 6 000 jobs.

The DA has recently been informed that the Hawks investigation, undertaken at our request, is at an advanced stage, and going forward to the National Prosecuting Authority.  This relates to the SAPO management taking medical aid, pension and other ‘contributions’ paid by staff and pensioners, and not handing them over to the medical aid, or pension, but rather using that money elsewhere. The consequences for the staff and pensioners have been catastrophic.

Unfortunately watching the lack of will on the part of the government to investigate and prosecute all instances of corruption and mismanagement at the SAPO, we are forced  to call in various security agencies to do the job for them.

Meanwhile, the CEO earns a salary of almost R4 million per year, and staff medical aid contributions of R700 million remain unpaid, leaving employees without medical coverage. A week ago, on the day the SAPO management claimed it was up to date with medical aid payments, I received yet another of a seemingly endless torrent of letters – this time from a desperate daughter whose elderly mother had been turned away from hospital as her SAPO medical aid had been discontinued due to non-payment.

The main issue here is the fact that there is zero clarity on how the R2.6 billion bailout will be used.

The  DA demands transparency and accountability and a firm instruction on how the funds must be spent. Especially in light of the fact that the SAPO received the worst possible audit outcome: a Disclaimer,  from the Auditor General.

We urge that the R2.6 billion, which will sadly no doubt disappear like the morning mist, be allocated towards fulfilling SAPO’s outstanding financial obligations, including the payment of all outstanding medical aid contributions and pensions  and the proper compensation of the 6 000 employees who are likely to lose their jobs.

We call on the Minister of Finance to provide a detailed report on how the R2.6 billion bailout must be apportioned and to ensure that the money is used for the benefit of SAPO employees and not on vanity projects to improve the tainted reputations of the utterly inept management team.  We have written to him today asking him to provide exactly that.