The Post Office is getting a veteran of corporate South Africa to lead it. Telecommunications & postal services minister Siyabonga Cwele said on Thursday that cabinet had decided to appoint Mark Barnes as CEO of the troubled state-owned company, effective 15 January 2016.
Barnes’s appointment is for a five-year period. He was recommended to the position by the Post Office board, following a recruitment process.
“This appointment will help us address one of the two main challenges faced by the Post Office, that of creating leadership stability,” said Cwele in a statement.
“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.”
Barnes, who chairs the JSE-listed Purple Group and who has extensive experience in the private equity industry in South Africa, has said on a number occasions in recent months that he has been lobbying government to accept a proposal that would see the private sector getting involved in helping to rescue the Post Office.
He has said that e-commerce should not be seen as a threat to the Post Office, but as an opportunity it should embrace.
Cwele said government is committed to turning around and modernising the Post Office to ensure it is competitive in an interconnected world.
“The Post Office has a large network that can be used as an access point to government services by communities, especially those in rural areas. It remains a crucial institution because in some communities, it is the only financial services institution,” Cwele said.
“We continue to engage with the national treasury to find ways of investing in the Post Office,” he added. “The strategic turnaround plan needs to be funded, especially the revenue-generating aspects that include new venturing into new services such as banking and electronic services. The board and management have done everything possible on the cost-cutting and cost-containment side. For an example, onerous contracts have been cut.”
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