Mozambique: 18 Months to Liquidate the Post Office

Maputo — Maputo. 9 Jun (AIM) - The Mozambican government's Institute for the Management of State Holdings (IGEPE) has announced the creation of a commission of liquidators with the job of winding up the affairs of the publicly owned postal service, Correios de Mocambique, within 18 months.

This follows the decision, taken by the government on 25 May, to dissolve the loss-making company as part of the "restructuring" of the state owned business sector.

The government justified its proposed abolition of the public postal service on financial grounds. The executive director of IGEPE, Raimundo Matula, declared in mid-May, that the business of Correios de Mocambique was "out of date".

"With the explosion of a variety of technological resources, the company was not capable of following this evolution and of re-inventing itself", he said.

The Minister of Economy and Finance, Adriano Maleiane, said there would be no further injections of state money into the post office. The government no longer regarded Correios de Mocambique as a "strategic company".

Furthermore, under a 2016 law on the postal service, Correios de Mocambique had lost its monopoly. "It can all be done by the private sector", said Maleiane.

Within the 18 month deadline, the liquidators must undertake a survey of all the company's property, assess the value of its assets, and prepare to compensate, retire or find alternative employment for the company's 516 workers.

Interviewed by the independent television station STV, the secretary of the trade union committee in Correios de Mocambique, Elias Chirindza, said that it was only on Tuesday, two weeks after Maleiane pronounced the death sentence on the company, that the IGEPE management gave the workers any information about their likely future.

"We met with IGEPE on Tuesday and we were told that, by the middle of next year, our situation will be regularized", said Chirindza. The Commission "will decide how many workers must take retirement, how many will be paid compensation, and how many will be employed by any new company that replaces Correios de Mocambique".

This is not a simple privatization: the government is not merely selling off assets. Instead, it is entirely abolishing the public postal service.

Correios de Mocambique has a wealth of buildings scattered across the country, which will now pass out of public hands, to be seized by private companies. Whether any of them will still be used for postal purposes is currently unknown.

Although the traditional postal business of sending parcels and letters has diminished drastically due to the advent of the Internet and email, it is untrue that this business has ceased to exist. There is still a residual volume of traffic using Correios de Mocambique facilities, and a good number of clients still use (and pay for) post office boxes.

No-one yet knows what will happen to this business. But certainly any private company that swoops in will charge much more for postal services, particularly if it has to deliver to remote areas.

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