Mark Barnes joined the Post Office at the start of 2015. He moved the head office out of swanky Centurion back to the centre of Pretoria and dumped the R4m-a-month lease, which he declared to be illegal. The parties are presently involved in litigation. His first plan to save the Post Office in 2016 was to turn it into a fully fledged bank. With its physical footprint across the country, the Post Office has four times as many branches as Standard Bank. The idea was that it would be a low-cost lender to small and micro businesses and that financial services would fund other non-profitable services, such as mail. The Post Bank’s legal standing now is that it can take deposits but is not allowed to lend money. Barnes had thought the licence would be granted quickly. However, two and a half years later, the application is still stuck with the Reserve Bank. While there were legal technicalities that needed addressing – such as amending the Banks Act to allow state-owned companies to enga...

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