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Communications Aims to Promote Universal Access to Postal Services

July 24, 2009

Department of Communications

Government wants to increase the number of people making use of postal services offered by the post office. The department of communications has announced in the Government Gazette its intention to introduce the South African Post Office Bill into Parliament before the end of the year.

The Post Office Amendment Act of 1991 had separated the post and telecommunications services and created two independent corporate entities. Telkom was tasked with providing telecommunications and the South African Post Office (SAPO) was responsible for the provision of postal services.

SAPO has operated as a wholly owned government company with a board of directors and a management team. Profit is expected to be generated as per the norm in the private sector. Government has accorded SAPO a high degree of managerial autonomy and flexibility.

However, the post office remains subject to regulatory scrutiny by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa. The provisions of the Public Finance Management Act govern SAPO’s financial affairs.

The bill seeks to put new provisions in place regarding the governance and structure of SAPO. A comprehensive legal framework will be established that deals with corporate governance at SAPO.

The proposed legislation will set up institutional arrangements that foster efficiency, improve competitiveness and enhance accountability within SAPO. The bill will also aim to facilitate universal access to postal services.

The department has called for written public comment highlighting suggestions that could improve the current proposals contained within the bill. In particular, the department is interested in comments on the proposed structure of the board and the stipulated requirements for board members.