Death of cooperatives in Lesotho

Death of cooperatives in Lesotho

MASERU – POOR financial management is the root cause of the death of cooperatives in Lesotho, says Commissioner of Cooperatives, ’Maphamoli Lekoetje.
Lekoetje said this is one of the major findings of a research commissioned to find out why many cooperatives have collapsed.
The results of the research are yet to be released.

But Lekoetje said the research revealed that apart from financial mismanagement some cooperatives shut down because they failed to attract new members.
She said during the research they found most cooperatives still exist in name only. “We always encourage cooperatives to open their doors to new members especially the youth to enable perpetual succession,” she said. “Some were formed a long time ago in the 50s and 60s and all their members have since passed on.” “In some cases even the villages where those cooperatives were formed know nothing about their existence.” She stated that there is a plan to resuscitate the cooperative sector to ensure that they   contribute significantly to the economy. “We are encouraging our youths to form cooperatives. They should stop perceiving them as things for the old,” Lekoetje said.  She further urged members to run cooperatives appropriately and enjoy them.

“Our people should register their cooperatives and pay tax so that they can also bid for tenders like companies do.” She said it was important to amend the Cooperatives Societies Act to align it to the role and significance of the cooperatives in the economy. Thabo Mothibeli, the Secretary General of Lesotho Youth Cooperative Alliance, said to ensure that they remove the old perception that cooperatives are for old people they have already formed an apex body that will deal with the management of cooperatives.  “Previously, cooperatives were known to be for those who were retiring or for farmers only. But lately we have people from all sectors within cooperatives showing that the perception is changing,” Mothibeli said.  “We want to bring innovation into cooperatives as we have realized that coops are essential just as companies hence we now have ICT, service providers, accountants and auditors among us,” he said. He added that they are going to provide training on bookkeeping as a way of minimizing the risk of mismanagement of funds which at the end of the day alienates people from cooperatives.

“We are also going to give them alternatives as well. We want to let them know that they should start banking their money.”
“They should stop overwhelming people with the task of keeping the money for them. You cannot go hungry while you have money in the house, there will always be expenses and when you have money you will use it.” “Before you know it, you would have accumulated the debt beyond what you had initially planned.”
He further stated that cooperatives members should follow their constitution.
“Unlike companies where shareholders will only leave the company after selling their shares we have an advantage of having Annual General Meetings to make the changes that we want within our cooperatives,” Mothibeli said.  “When a cooperative starts the minimum number of people in it should be 10, meaning that 10 people now have jobs and if we are to eradicate the current crisis of unemployment then we should take cooperatives seriously and have the youth from a young age involved in cooperatives.”

Lemohang Rakotsoane

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