EDITORIAL: Keep politics out of co-operative movement


House Majority Leader Aden Duale. FILE PHOTO | NMG

If the changes being proposed in the Co-operative Societies Act and the Sacco Societies Act by the government have appeared suspicious, they now seem mischievous after the parent ministry disowned them. The Industry, Investment and Trade ministry has opposed the proposals contained in the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2018 saying they risk creating a parallel class of investors within Kenya’s co-operative movement.

And the mystery can only deepen given that the Co-operative Alliance of Kenya, an umbrella of the co-operative societies, has also come out in opposition to the changes.

For starters, the proposed amendments to Co-operative Societies Act, (Cap. 490) seek to create a new class of members to ostensibly focus on social impact investments.

The social impact members are meant to enjoy voting rights only on resolutions relating to the special fund, the investment committee and the special fund trustee, all to be created by the amendments. The nagging question is who is pushing for these changes. Who wants to create special class of co-operators, and for what purpose? Why should social impact investments, which sound more like the handiwork of State or large corporate entities, be made a province of the co-operative movement?

As with other government-sponsored bills, this one is being fronted by House Majority Leader Aden Duale. He has sought to assure the public that the changes will safeguard members’ democratic rights giving the Cabinet Secretary supervisory powers to ensure ordinary members are not oppressed by the new classes. The bottomline is that the co-operative movement is too important a segment of our economy to be subjected to political machinations of any kind. 

Having mobilised a total of Sh640 billion in savings from its 15 million members by end of December last year, the 22,000 registered co-operative societies are obviously an economic force to reckon with.