Post Office begins layoffs of 4,700 workers

Henry

Thousands of people will soon be out of work after the South African Post Office (Sapo) began its layoff process.

A total of 4,700 people are affected by this process. However, this is less than the 6,000 jobs that would initially be lost.

The Post Office will now have just over 6,300 staff members left.

Natasha Mazzone, the DA’s spokesperson on communications and digital technologies, says that since 2014, Sapo has received more than R10 billion from the taxpayer, including R2.4 billion in last year’s national budget.

“Yet 6,000 jobs have been lost since then – a number that is now expected to rise to more than 10,000.

“This means that for every billion rand spent by the taxpayer, around 1,000 jobs have been lost,” says Mazonne.

Sapo was provisionally liquidated last year after it was unable to meet its financial obligations of approximately R13 billion. Among other things, its branches could not pay rent and landlords consequently turned to the courts to recover these debts.

“With the national treasury’s intervention, a further lifeline was secured, after which Sapo was put into business rescue.

“A total of R6.2 billion has been secured to Sapo to finance the business rescue process: a lifebuoy of R2.4 billion that the national treasury allocated to Sapo in February’s budget, as well as an additional funding requirement of R3.8 billion – which the country did not cannot afford – to recapitalize Sapo.”

Mazonne says the DA unequivocally rejects the bailout to the Post Office and describes it “as a waste of hard-earned taxpayers’ money that could be used elsewhere”.

“It is unlikely that this money will be used for Sapo, and the Post Office will just be liquidated again. An amount of R10 billion will end up down the drain, as well as thousands of jobs.”

The DA believes that a financial bailout from the state is not the solution to save Sapo, but that partnerships with the private sector – which has the necessary expertise and infrastructure – must be established.

“While Sapo is currently unviable, its remaining infrastructure, which spans rural and semi-urban communities, could be of use.

“Sapo remains crucial for the distribution of social assistance. With a new mandate, a digitized future is possible – including the provision of electronic services such as high-speed internet; local deliveries and distribution; and other services such as municipal accounts, permits and vehicle licences.”

Mazonne believes that this turnaround must happen soon “before it is too late and Sapo can no longer be saved”.

“The DA stands with the 4,700 employees who lost their jobs and we will ensure that you are supported and adequately compensated.

“As a country, we must hold the ANC accountable for its waste of hard-earned tax money and all the pain caused by job losses. It is high time for the ANC’s judgment day to arrive and for the country to turn over a new leaf.”

Layoffs ‘callous’

Sinawo Thambo, national spokesperson of the EFF, says the party strongly condemns the callous layoff of 4,700 workers at Sapo.

“This heartless decision, driven by (Sapo’s) business rescue practitioners, is a serious injustice to the livelihood of thousands of hardworking people who have dedicated their lives to serving the public.

“The fact that almost 42% of the existing Sapo workforce is being targeted for retrenchment is a thin indictment of the current government’s failure to protect workers’ rights and uphold their dignity.

“Although Sapo received a substantial bailout last year – bringing the total to R10.3 billion between 2016 and 2024 – Sapo continues to languish in financial turmoil.”

Thambo says it is also extremely worrying that 235 post offices across the country have been closed, seriously affecting regions such as the Free State, North West, North Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

“These closures not only deprive communities of essential postal and banking services, but also exacerbate the unemployment crisis gripping our nation.

“The EFF condemns the ANC government’s negligence which caused Sapo to be driven into the ground – as it does with all state enterprises.”

Thambo says this simply serves as another damning indictment of the ANC government’s failure to deal with the unemployment crisis plaguing our country.

“The EFF proposes decisive actions to rebuild Sapo and revive its operations.

“First, we will prioritize the immediate cancellation of all debts burdening Sapo. In addition, we are committed to spearheading the moderation of Sapo, facilitating its transition to digitization to ensure it remains competitive in the rapidly evolving postal landscape.”