Minister Ntshavheni still silent on sudden closure of Post Offices

Please find attached soundbite by Dianne Kohler Barnard MP.

Today, 2 million pensioners from all over South Africa will be trying to collect their pensions from Post Offices (PO). Tomorrow, the 4 million people who need disability grants will go to collect theirs. The next day the 12 million people who receive child grants, will also line up to collect theirs.

Post offices all over the country are however closing doors without warning or any information on where these vulnerable groups must go. At least 144 post offices have been closed thus far, with many more still to face the cut.

Are pensioners expected to take an expensive taxi to another far-flung post office in the hope that it’s both open, and has sufficient cash on hand to pay them out? In rural areas, there are no big supermarkets where they may go to collect their money, nor do the recipients seem to be aware that this is a viable alternative. From Verulam in KwaZulu-Natal to Darling in the Western Cape – everywhere reports are flooding in about sudden closures. Hundreds of thousands of citizens are being massively inconvenienced, and the transport costs to collect their money at another Post Office often take the lion’s share of the grants.

Last year, the DA put questions to the minister to find out what contingency plans were in place for the payment of social grants which may be affected by these closures. Minister Ntshavheni is yet to answer these questions 495 days later…

The Minister must also explain where exactly the last R8 billion bailout went – and how the Post Office has managed to incur a R1.8 billion loss last year, with its liabilities exceeding its assets by R1.5 billion. Moreover, the Post Office owes over R485 million to its creditors. Allegations of management siphoning off employee UIF, medical Aid, VAT and Pension contributions to pay these creditors are being investigated by the Hawks following DA pressure.

The Post Office closures are also leaving in its wake debt owed to local landlords, employed and retired postal workers. These workers are desperate, having now received letters from their medical aid cutting them off. Retired postal workers are dumped by the medical aid, as managers realise that their medical aid contributions have been taken by PO management and not paid over – as families realise their children no longer have medical aid cover.

Where is the Minister? When will she advise our grant recipients? The Post Office staff? The Post Office creditors?

The ever-rising number of poor South Africans cannot continue to pay the price for mismanaged, poorly operated and corrupt SOEs. As is often the case, poor and vulnerable people suffer the brunt of the ANC government’s poor management, which led to the closure of these post offices.