Sapo flying without pilots

2012-06-17 13:10

Johannesburg - Sapo’s 14 000 permanent and 8 000 temporary personnel currently have no permanent chief executive, chief financial officer (CFO), chief operating officer (COO) and chief information officer.

Running without permanent chiefs has been cited as one of the reasons Sapo is failing to resolve a strike that has disrupted the delivery of mail for three months.

The lack of leadership at Sapo was reflected last week when the mailing and banking parastatal released a media statement saying the strike by its casual employees was over.

Few hours later, the Communications Workers’ Union publicly denied the strike had ended.

The union this week marched to Tshwane’s Union Buildings to protest against the use of labour broking firms at Sapo.

The two Sapo officials who occupy the positions of CEO and CFO, respectively, currently do so in acting capacities.

The union's spokesperson, Matankana Mothapo, said having no permanent chiefs had resulted in the parastatal’s decision-making process being paralysed.

“There is no leadership at Sapo and serious decisions are being deferred,” said Mothapo.

“Sapo gets 8 000 workers from labour brokers and whenever we raise the issue about labour broking we are told that the management can’t resolve it because there’s no permanent CEO,” he said.

“Having no chiefs is a problem because Sapo can’t take decisions on serious matters,” he said.

The last time Sapo had a permanent chief executive was in January, when Motshoanetsi Lefoka left the state enterprise following allegations of a R425m tender irregularities.

The same allegations – involving the awarding of a lease contract for the transferring of Sapo’s head office – also claimed the scalp of the previous COO, John Wentzel, who vacated the position last October.

This resulted in Nick Buick, a temporary worker who was Sapo’s CFO, being controversially appointed as acting chief executive.

He was criticised by corporate governance guru Mervyn King for holding the two positions simultaneously.

“The jobs . . . are different. The CFO should report to the CEO and the latter should have oversight of the work done by the CFO,” King said last October.

“Consequently, the two positions should not be held by the same person,” he said.

Buick has resigned from Sapo and is expected to leave at the end of the month.

Mothapo said Sapo should permanently fill the vacancies of chiefs soon because this affected labour.

“We need officials with authority to be employed,” he said.

Sapo spokesperson Lungile Lose said the parastatal has advertised the positions of chiefs.

“The positions have already been advertised, with the process being finalised within a few months,” said Lose.

He said the reason the strike had taken so long to resolve was because the labourers involved were neither part of a union nor were directly employed by Sapo.

“We expect the process to take between six and nine months to be finalised. In the meantime, workers’ contracts would be renewed. The striking employees have returned to work, in line with the interim agreement,” Lose said.