New Post Office boss talks tough on turnaround

The SA Post Office was put under administration in November last year after a protracted four-month illegal strike. Picture: Emile Hendricks/Foto24
The SA Post Office was put under administration in November last year after a protracted four-month illegal strike. Picture: Emile Hendricks/Foto24

Cape Town - Cabinet has approved the appointment of Mark Barnes as the Group Chief Executive Officer of the South African Post Office (Sapo) on Thursday.

Barnes has been appointed for a five-year period, starting from January 15 2016. There is expected to be a handover from Trevor Ndlazi who was appointed as acting group chief executive officer in October.

Barnes graduated from UCT with an Honours Degree in Actuarial Science and attended Harvard Business School. He is also the single biggest shareholder and executive chairperson in investing and trading solutions company Purple Group.

He also has leadership experience in financial services at Standard Bank, Capital Alliance and Brait, according to the Purple Group website.

Barnes told Fin24 that he sees the Post Office as “delivering more than just letters” as he plans to evolve its role in the internet age. He also sees the Post Office as standing on its own two feet.

"I expect to see evidence of a turnaround strategy probably within 6 to 18 months and then in three years time I would hope that we have an established different way of doing business,” Barnes told Fin24.

"My case is not built on a government bail out, my case is built on the Post Office bailing itself out,” he said.

Meanwhile, the  Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Siyabonga Cwele said that Barnes’ appointment is expected to solidify Sapo’s top leadership

“This stable leadership will help the board to implement the Strategic Turnaround Plan that was approved by Cabinet in June this year. In August, Cabinet approved the appointment of the current board. I believe the board is capable and needs an equally capable management team to turn the Post Office around,” said Cwele.

The ministry is also engaging with National Treasury “to find ways of investing in the Post Office”, said Cwele.

Cost-cutting and cost-containment measures have also been implemented at Sapo with “onerous contracts” having been cut, added the minister.

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