Picture: SOWETAN
Picture: SOWETAN

THE South African Post Office (Sapo) has denied that it is anywhere near collapsing, as claimed by Communication Workers' Union (CWU).

The government-owned company, which is the subject of a number of investigations for maladministration, including by the Department of Communication, said, like any other business, "we are also vulnerable to different business lifecycles which are ostensibly engineered by the macro environment".

The post office is also being investigated for corruption by the public protector following a request by the CWU, which suspects "deep rooted" corruption on contracts and the use of labour brokers.

Sapo has reportedly spent about R2m to keep its head of technology infrastructure, Muzi Vilakazi, away from its office for close to 17 months, while also paying consultants R200000 a month for work that could be done by internal staff.

The post office said Communications Minister Dina Pule has the prerogative to scrutinise the organisation to ascertain good health with regard to its governance.

"We would expressly welcome any such move by the minister," the parastatal said, while CWU spokesman Matankana Mothapo said the department's sudden interest shows that "there is something fishy".

The union said it is still "outraged" and "disappointed" with the public protector for dragging her feet in the investigation. However, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said the delay was because her office was told that Sapo was doing its own internal investigation and decided to postpone its probe.

Madonsela said that, even after the completion of the Sapo investigation, some issues remained unresolved . This led to her team re-opening its own investigation. As this began there was a leadership change at the parastatal and the new personnel could not help much.

Madonsela said that now Sapo, led by Chris Hlekane, is cooperating, a report will be ready by the end of next month.

At the time of going to press, the Department of Communication had not responded to numerous questions regarding its investigation.

* This article was first published in Sunday Times: Business Times