South African state-owned tech companies R771 million behind on bills — the biggest culprits

South Africa’s state-owned companies falling under the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies owe R771 million in unpaid invoices from their suppliers.

Communications minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni revealed the figure in a written response to questions from Democratic Alliance MP Hendrik Krüger.

Krüger had asked the minister what number of supplier invoices currently remain unpaid by her department and each entity reporting to her for more than 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, and 120 days.

In addition, the DA MP wanted to know the amounts outstanding in each instance and by what date the bills would be settled.

The minister said her department did not have any outstanding bills, but nearly all the entities that report to her do.

The biggest culprit was the South Africa Post Office (SAPO), which owes R485 million across 196 supplier bills.

What makes matters even worse for the struggling postal service is that it is the only entity reporting to the department with no funds to settle any part of these outstanding bills.

Ntshavheni said while the Post Office has developed a new strategy to improve its operational and financial performance, it would require funding from the government to be successful.

The Post Office also recently put fourteen of its properties up for sale via auction.

Post Office

Aside from SAPO, the entity with the largest outstanding amount was the State IT Agency (SITA), which owed R181.2 million from 210 bills.

Telecoms infrastructure operator Broadband Infraco (BBI) had the third biggest bill, with R61.53 million outstanding.

Of all the entities reporting to the minister, only the .ZA Domain Name Authority (ZADNA) did not have any outstanding bills.

The table below shows how much each entity owes suppliers.

Outstanding bill amounts from suppliers
30 days 60 days 90 days 120 days Total
SITA R45,300,000 R45,300,000 R45,300,000 R45,300,000 R181,200,000
NEMISA R70,364.74 R70,364.74
BBI R13,000,942 R19,100,028 R17,089,078 R12,338,747 R61,528,795
Sentech R267,606.64 R267,606.64 R267,606.64 R267,606.64 R1,070,426.56
FPB R7,854.20 R737,420.63 R456,499.72 R318,279.37 R1,520,053.92
SABC R1,152,514.02 R24,421,343.05 R1,973,703.05 R191,242.27 R27,738,802.39
SAPO R119,000,000 R59,000,000 R37,000,000 R270,000,000 R485,000,000
Postbank R136,967.30 R141,107.14 R10,672,890.74 R10,950,965.18
ICASA R371,859.95 R366,837.92 R19,946.55 R175,127.05 R933,771.47
USAASA R419,192.21 R441,369.37 R107,308.27 R29,090.64 R996,960.49

Aside from SAPO, all the other entities provided rough timelines for settling their bills.

These were as follows:

  • SITA — Working with all its client departments to make funds available to settle all outstanding invoices as soon as possible, no later than 31 March 2022.
  • NEMISA — Envisages settling the outstanding amount by 31 March 2022.
  • BBI — 29 of its 30-day invoices (to the value of R2,615,956) have since been paid. Seventy of the 60-day invoices amounting to R162,783 are from a previous travel management company and still undergoing verification. The balances of the 30-day and 60-day invoices and all 90-day and 120-day invoices are from fellow SOEs, with which payment arrangements are being discussed.
  • Sentech — Will settle outstanding amounts by 31 March 2022.
  • FPB — Hopes to settle bills by 31 March 2022 for all invoices that meet the payment requirement, namely that the provider had delivered service or goods.
  • SABC — Will settle invoices falling between 30 and 120 days between February 2022 and March 2022, subject to all internal processes being concluded.
  • Postbank — Will make payment by 28 February 2022, except for SAPO, to which payments were put on hold due to the postal agency withholding Postbank’s revenue from SASSA on payment of grants. Negotiations between SAPO and Postbank are still in progress.
  • ICASA — Invoices falling between 30 and 90 days are currently in progress and will be settled no later than the end of February 2022. The invoices falling within the 120 days are either under dispute, or the supplier’s tax status is not up-to-date. Therefore, it cannot effect payment.
  • USAASA — Some of the invoices will be paid before the end of February 2022, while other invoices are awaited to be fully compliant.

Now read: Post Office racks up R304 million debt with landlords

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South African state-owned tech companies R771 million behind on bills — the biggest culprits