Johannesburg – Announcements were made not so long ago that a number of post offices were closing due to lack of money.
Indeed, the post office in a shopping mall near my home duly closed.
Little did I realise that this announcement would be so personal for me and people in my city, Polokwane.
Many of us renewed our car licence discs at that post office.
Last week, having to renew my car licence discs, I drove to the traffic department to get same.
The queue was dishearteningly long and at some point a queue marshal came along and told us that those beyond a certain number must just go home as they would not be served on the day.
We were told to come another day.
On enquiring from an official as to where I could get discs, I was directed to a post office not far from the department.
On arrival there, I was greeted by a huge chain and padlock, next to which was a notice to the effect that the post office would remain closed until further notice.
One day gone.
After taking advice from friends, I woke up the next day and drove to the main post office in the city centre.
Again, the queue snaked around the block and near midday, as I was getting closer to the door, a marshal announced that their system was down.
It was up to each one of us to wait or go home, considering that no one knew when the system would be up again.
I phoned two other post offices in the city, none answered their phones. Any wonder the post office is dying?
I drove to one of them, only to be told its systems were down. I went home and tried to phone the main post office to check if its systems were up again.
So, I drove there.
The system was back on. Considering that I am well into the seventies, I asked the marshal if the post office has a senior citizens policy that offers priority service for senior citizens like at Home Affairs, banks and other such places.
He said they had the policy but they don’t implement it. Why have a policy if you don’t implement it? Chatting to people in the queue, it emerged that things had changed.
I no longer only have to produce my ID, it must be accompanied by a police certified copy.
I was told they don’t accept copies certified by anybody else.
Copies certified by commissioners of oaths are legal. Why are they unacceptable to the post office?
I also learnt that there is some petty corruption taking place where some employees take R20 from people and get their discs renewed quick.
Off I went to the nearby outfit to make a copy of my ID and then to the police station in the city to have the copy certified.
The queue was long.
While there, the person I had asked to keep my place in the queue at the post office called to let me know that they have been cut and told to return the next day.
Day two gone.
On the third day, a younger man who learnt of my plight collected the documents from my home, queued at the post office and brought me the disc.
Why should a thing as simple as renewing a disc be a three-day painful rigmarole?
Why are so many mundane things not working properly? Is my country sinking? I certainly had that sinking feeling.
• Mangena is a former minister of science and technology.
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