Post Office is stone walling Icasa complaint - Yelland

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 – The outcome of a hearing brought by a group of publishers has once again been delayed after they lodged a complaint against the South African Post Office (Sapo) over non-delivery or part delivery of their products.

This comes after the Concerned Group of Specialist Magazine Publishers filed a complaint with the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) on 11 December 2014 and a hearing was finally heard over six months later on 1 July 2015.

Speaking at the Cape Town Press Club on Tuesday, spokesperson of the group, EE Publishers MD Chris Yelland, said they remained patient for an outcome.

“The post office has been stone walling the process since we filed our complaint,” he told the gathering in Cape Town.

“The post office has a licence from Icasa as a monopoly to serve the people of South Africa fairly with prices that are regulated,” he said. “The role of Icasa is to protect South Africa from the monopoly abusing its role. We believe that Sapo is in breach of its licence conditions.”

They have called for Sapo to be stripped of its licence, penalised for breaching its licence or made to consider other licences to meet some services that Sapo can't fulfill.

Currently under administration and under the constant gaze of Parliament and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, Sapo has been battling labour issues as well as maladministration for years, resulting in its services being hampered and its finances flattened.

Sapo’s sidestep manoeuvres

Yelland outlined a litany of sidestep manoeuvres Sapo has made over the past six months. After they finally got a hearing with Icasa’s Complaints and Compliance Committee (CCC) on July 1, Yelland said Sapo’s legal team produced a five-page document to respond to their 32-page complaint.

“Sapo’s advocate seemed disoriented, directionless and despondent,” said Yelland. “They didn’t answer one query from our complaint, but instead used legalise and brought up procedural points.”

Yelland said the CCC reserved its judgment for 16 July, but it later granted another extension of 20 July for Sapo to respond to their replying affidavit in restricted areas.

On 20 July, Sapo requested a further extension, but this time without a deadline. “There was also no time set for the next CCC hearing or when a judgment would be made,” said Yelland.

The group includes Brooke Pattrick, Creamer Media (publishers of Engineering News), EE Publishers, Interact Media Defined, Now Media, Technews Publishing and TE Trade Events.

Sapo stable and ready to win back customers, says acting CEO

Responding to these allegations, Sapo acting CEO Mlu Mathonsi confirmed with Fin24 on Tuesday that it was “opposing the complaint by the publishing companies and has filed its response”.

“We are unfortunately not at liberty to pre-empt Icasa’s decision,” he added in an emailed response.

Mathonsi said following initiatives spearheaded by Administrator Dr Simo Lushaba, Sapo had “restored its delivery standards to normality”.

“Operations have been stable without service interruption for eight months now,” he said. “The delivery of magazines has also been running smoothly.”

“As a responsible service provider, the SA Post Office will continue to work with all its stakeholders in an effort to win them back,” said Mathonsi.

“The newly-approved strategy makes various business interventions aimed at ensuring that we put the highest premium on the customer by offering consistent and reliable services,” he added.

"The Post Office would like to thank its trade unions and its customers for their support."

* Fin24 has sought comment from Icasa and will update this story or publish a new story depending on the feedback.

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