Grassy Park post office employees and their colleagues at other branches had a spring in their step last week – and with very good reason.
They were celebrating the rejuvenation of the South African Post Office (SAPO) which earlier this year looked like it would have to close its doors after it had posted a loss of R1.5 billion.
The parastatal had been rocked by several strikes, the dissolution of its board and allegations of fraud and corruption.
Countrywide more than 30 post offices have been shut.
However, SAPO has been given a new lease on life.
They announced on Monday August 22 that the SA Reserve Bank had awarded Postbank a first-level banking licence.
The parastatal also received the funding it requires to restore its service, and signed an agreement with labour unions to conclude all outstanding labour issues.
To celebrate, employees de-clared Wednesday August 31 “Spring clean day” and spruced up neglected post offices as a sign of a fresh start.
“This was a signal to customers that the post office is revitalised from grassroots level up and this is the overriding message. Therefore, metaphorically we did the spring cleaning across retail outlets nationally to signal new beginnings,” said SAPO CEO Mark Barnes.
He said the banking licence would make it possible for people who do not have bank acc-ounts to complete financial services at the post office. There is also a turnaround plan where the parastatal will pay its debt and try and resolve all past labour re-lated issues regarding salaries. These will be concluded with the unions.
Collin Isaacs, who has been an employee for the SAPO for 38 years, said he had no doubt that the post office would survive through the trying times.
Mr Isaacs is based at Tokai post office but was deployed to help at Grassy Park for the spring day clean-up.
“I started out at the post office straight out of high school in 1978 at the age of 18 as a clerk,” said Mr Isaacs.
“There have been many changes and many obstacles in the parastatal and there have been many ups and downs but I stayed steadfast. My heart and soul is in the post office and it will always be because we aim to provide a service for the people of our country,” he said.
Grassy Park resident Clive Rhoda was ecstatic that the post office would not be closing.
“I am very happy because I often come to the post office to pay my rates and bills. They provide a service to us that can’t be replaced,” said Mr Rhoda.
Another resident, Charmaine Basson also pays her bills and plays the lottery at the post office.
“The post office is a place for people who don’t really have access or don’t want to go to the big shops at the malls and other places to pay bills. I’m glad their many issues were resolved.”
Mr Barnes said SAPO’s financial books should be in order by 2018 after paying off its debts to its creditors.