Wednesday, 20 April 2022 16:29

Massive planned changes for post office – as it takes aim at the couriers.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Communications and Digital Technologies minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has published the South African Postbank Amendment Bill for public comment.

The bill aims to rapidly expand the post office's mandate from simply delivering parcels to providing 'diversified and expanded services, including e-commerce and financial services'.

"The objects are expanded to ensure that the post office is not only empowered by the legislation to provide basic postal services but is empowered to provide other value-added services to expand on its revenue-generating streams," the department said.

Expanded services and e-commerce

The bill provides for a range of expanded services that will be offered through the post office, including:

  • Government services;
  • Agency services;
  • Financial services;
  • E-commerce;
  • Logistics;
  • Retail;
  • Authentication services;
  • Warehousing services;
  • Serve as a 'digital hub' for businesses and communities.

The revised mandate also empowers the post office to provide logistics and e-commerce services and serve as a logistics partner for e-commerce and other logistics players.

Differentiation 

The bill will allow the post office to charge different fees for different services and in certain areas, subject to regulator approval.

This is to ensure that the post office can recover services costs and not operate at a loss, the department said.

"Furthermore, the amendment allows the Post Office to differentiate its service offerings at different post offices and service points based on the needs assessment for a particular area. This is also to ensure the effective and efficient usage and enhancement of services offerings by SAPO to communities."

Government focus and couriers

The post office is currently entrusted with a universal postal services obligation to provide services everywhere in the country – even in unprofitable areas that do not make business sense. By comparison, the department said other operators 'cherry-pick' affluent areas where they are guaranteed to make a profit.

"Allowing for the utilisation of SAPO infrastructure to be utilised by governments departments at a fee will offset the losses that they are currently incurring to provide universal services obligation that they are required by law to provide, regardless. This will also ensure that SAPO does not rely on government bailout and subsidies as is currently the case.

"In this regard, SAPO should be seen as an extension arm of the government and as such should be considered the preferred supplier of certain services, especially in the rural areas where the combination of post office services and government services will ensure full government services housed in a single operation," it said.

Meanwhile the South African Post Office (Sapo) has appealed to members of the public to extend a helping hand to the victims of the floods in KwaZulu-Natal.

This as all Post Office branches in Gauteng have been designated as drop-off points for donations to flood victims in KwaZulu-Natal.

"There are 199 Post Office branches in Gauteng, and each one is a drop-off point for donations. The infrastructure of the Post Office makes us perfectly suitable as collection points," Sapo Group CEO, Nomkhita Mona, said in a statement on Wednesday.

KwaMashu Business Chamber chair, Sthe Mabanga, said the biggest need is tinned food, clothes, shoes, sanitary towels and blankets.

Donation boxes have been placed at all post offices in Gauteng and members of the public are requested to put any item they would like to donate into the boxes.