ZAMPOST is finally on the road to recovery. The company which has previously been plagued by inefficiency and corruption recently announced that it has recorded a profit of KR 1.35 million for the first time since 1994.
Postmaster general McPherson Chanda says the parastatal has been able to enter the black due to the ongoing innovations that have been introduced on the market in addition to improvements in the company’s service delivery. He attributes the success to change in management style :
We managed to make a profit due to a strong performance resulting from a conscious and result-oriented culture the management has built. The month- on –month incremental financial performance shows that we are beginning to operate profitably.
This is a great start. The story of ZAMPOST is an interesting one. The company has been struggling for the last two decades. Things became so bad that Parliamentary Committee Report In 2008 observed :
ZAMPOST is facing serious operational problems. While acknowledging lack of financial support to the Company after dissolution of the Posts and Telecommunications Company..the Company has also suffered from lack of innovation..it has failed to reposition itself in the highly technologically advanced business environment that is obtaining. If this state of affairs continues, the Corporation may not be able to improve its financial performance and position.
The MMD government responded to that report by passing the Postal Services Act 2009. The legislation repealed the old Postal Services Act, 1994. It put in place a better regulatory framework for postal and courier services. More importantly it freed ZAMPOST to undertake postal banking and financial services, if it so wished.
And yet very little progress was made due to corruption and mismanagement. In Dec 2011, Communications Minister Yamfwa Mukanga revealed that Zampost management was mired in corruption and mismanagement. For example, it had wasted K2 billiom on the Postmaster General's when the company was operating at a loss. ZAMPOST also owed Roraima Financial Services K12 billion for money transfer services and had other historical debts in taxes to Government and other parastatal institutions.
The minister promptly fired the then Postmaster General Paul Simfukwe and subsequently arrested for alleged abuse of K1.1 billion in March 2012. A new management was appointed to take forward the company under McPherson Chanda.
With new management in place, ZAMPOST appears to be moving forward. In April 2012 it registered a micro finance company which operates as a Post Bank with an initial capital of K2.5 billion. The move was part of the company’s diversification process to widen its financial base.
The new management decided to reduce transmission fees on all swift cash money transfers by up to 30 per cent, among many new initiatives as it sought to attract more customers. That was also followed by a reduction in its post office box rates by five per cent on all commercial boxes across the country. Charges on personal boxes were reduced by 20 per cent. In addition to these initiatives management has expanded the move into the bus business.
We are still very early days but the progress is encouraging. Decisive ministerial decisions and competent management has been cardinal. The bigger question is whether ZAMPOST is spreading itself too widely. Some have suggested that Zampost would be better concentrating on its core products, such as its postal services and its money transfer services rather than focusing on being a giant for so many thing thereby incurring huge overhead costs in the name of innovation. But it does look like their current strategy is working and in the process giving hope that parastatals need not be run poorly!
Copyright © Zambian Economist 2013