Post Office chair rubbishes Scopa allegations

Post Office branch. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
Post Office branch. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Cape Town - The chair of the South African Post Office (Sapo) has hit back at Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) for questioning his commitment to the state-owned entity.

Dr Simosezwe Lushaba was lambasted by Scopa for failing to attend the committee’s hearing on March 8. The hearing came after the Post Office recorded a loss of R1.5bn for the financial year of 2015.

Scopa chair Themba Godi said in the hearing that “this entity has been in the news for all the wrong reasons - it’s very embarrassing.”

But Lushaba has defended his non-appearance at the committee hearing.

READ: Angry Scopa lashes Post Office over chair no-show

“At no point did I insinuate or directly insult both the Scopa and Parliament. The fact that of the matter is that I was never invited to the session of 8 March 2016 to begin with,” Lushaba told Fin24.

He said that Scopa's letter to Sapo invited chief executive Mark Barnes and specified a limited number of officials.

“At no point did either the entire board, as accounting authority, any member of the board or I receive an invite to the Scopa session. But out of my own initiative, based on courtesy and respect, I encouraged the board to accompany the CEO to the scheduled session citing that the CEO was new at Sapo,” said Lushaba.

Members of Scopa suggested that Lushaba was “conflicted” as the losses occurred under his watch as administrator.

“I was appointed by the minister [Siyabonga Cwele] as both administrator and chairperson of the board respectively and I have no reason to doubt that the minister based these on the relevant acts to avoid any ‘conflict of interest’ among other potential pitfalls,” said Lushaba.

READ: Parliament questions Post Office chair’s commitment

“Conflict arises when one participates in a decision and/or transaction that s/he stands to benefit from. It is unclear what decision and/or transaction do I stand to benefit from,” he added.

Lushaba said that Sapo accepted the Auditor General’s (AG) report into the “regression” in key performance areas of the entity.

The AG earlier this year found that irregular expenditure at Sapo increased to R576.86m while fruitless and wasteful expenditure grew to R95m.

“As a consequence, the management is currently implementing whatever remedial actions possible given SA Post Office's current context of limited cash as well as the high vacancy rate as a result of staff resignations,” said Lushaba.

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