Post Office to do more

Zweli Mokgata

Zweli Mokgata

South Africans will soon be able to access a wider variety of government services including payment of traffic fines and driver's license renewals at Post Office outlets.

This was one of the announcements made at the group's annual results briefing yesterday.

Motshoanetsi Lefoka, SA Post Office (Sapo) chief executive, said: "These are our best financial results to date, and we are on our way to becoming completely financially self-sustainable."

For the 2007-08 financial year, the organisation generated revenue of R5,6 billion - seven percent higher than the previous period.

This included a R263,9 million government subsidy, up from R170 million from the previous financial year.

Nick Buick, Sapo's financial director said the additional government funding was necessary to fulfil government's obligation of universal service delivery.

"We had to open outlets in areas that are not commercially viable. Each year we will be adding 100 new outlets. We've already allocated over 3 million new home addresses and next year we will add another 1 million in undeserved areas," Buick said.

The Post Office is spending R100 million (of the subsidy) on system upgrades which will include a new project called e-postal services where customers will be able to access various government services online.

To date 13 million transactions have been processed via this division. Customers are currently able to process land claims (in the Eastern Cape) and access low income home loans through the department of housing.

"You'll also be able to renew your motor vehicle licence and pay traffic fines at the post office," Buick added.

The Post Office group has been through some troubled times over the years and had to fight to continue on its upward growth path.

In the 2003-04 financial the company claimed to have earned its first positive profit, but it turned out that the government subsidy had saved it from a R70 million operating loss.

This year the organisation was in hot water when allegations of rampant postage thefts were said to have caused US online retailer Amazon to stop delivery to South Africa though the Post Office.

"We are in the process of resolving the issue with Amazon. United Postal Services is now the service provider for Amazon," Lefoka said.

Last year, Khutso Mampeule was fired from his CEO position after Minister of Communications Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri declared that she had lost confidence in him.

Lefoka was installed into the top position in November last year after taking over as acting chief executive since Mampeule's departure in May.

She came in promising to clean up the organisation and make the institute relevant in an environment where postage volumes are decreasing worldwide.

Mail still constitutes 68 percent (R3,5 billion) of the company's revenue, but it declared that it was looking to increase the scale of its logistics and financial services units (Postbank).

"The idea is to grow our non-traditional businesses over time," Lefoka said.