Post Office Fights Back To Save Its Image

We're serving you, says the Post Office in big adverts. Is this the start of a pitch for the social grants contract?
South African Post Office Group Chief Executive Officer Mark Barnes
South African Post Office Group Chief Executive Officer Mark Barnes
Gallo Images / Rapport / Deon Raath

The South African Post Office (Sapo) wants you to know that it's serving the country properly, in what appears to be part of a campaign to pitch for the social grants' contract.

In a half-page adverts in the Sunday Times, the post office announced that it has:

  • 1 520 post office branches
  • 702 postal agencies
  • 2.64-million addresses reached daily
  • 20-million financial transactions processed per month
  • 5.7-million individual Postbank accounts

The adverts follow the Sapo's appearance in the Constitutional Court over the recent South African Social Services Agency (Sassa) and the social grants debacle; the post office was admitted to the matter as a friend of the court and was not sued in this. During the case, Sapo told the ConCourt that it was willing and able to take on the delivery of the grants.

On March 17, the ConCourt ruled that Sassa must continue to deliver the grants for another 12 months while the illegality of its original contract remains suspended. The court also ordered Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini to explain before Friday why she shouldn't pay the costs of the case personally, a move that could cost her millions of rand.

In the Sunday Independent, Dlamini ran another half-page advert trying to rescue her image, as she did last weekend in other newspapers. The advert, topped with Dlamini's photograph, says that Sassa "wishes to unconditionally apologise to the country for the uncertainty caused with regard to the payment of social grants" and all social grants will be paid from April 1 "as promised by our caring government" on the usual paydays.

The Concourt judgment noted that Sapo's intervention in the case was important.

"Not only did it add a fresh, empowering perspective. It gave a real sense that, with sufficient will and energy, the State itself could creditably and competently manage the grants distribution process. It is worth admitting it as a friend of the Court," said the Concourt in the judgment.

"Sapo made bold to say that it would be in a position to do so soon . . . The Court is not in a position at this stage to assess its worth and it is in any event not within its remit to do so. So it must be accepted that CPS is, at present, the only entity capable of making payment of the social grants after 31 March 2017."

At the time Sapo made its submission, there was public scepticism of its ability to deliver, considering its history of chaos and strikes.


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