If a draft Bill by the Kenya Society of Professional Cooperators (KSPC) is passed into law, no person will be allowed to practice or provide cooperative services unless they have been issued with a valid practising certificate by KSPC.
According to the draft law, a copy of which Sacco Review has seen, KSPC will be mandated to form a registration committee that will vet individuals who want to offer services to the country’s cooperatives and issue them with practising certificates upon approval.
The committee will consist of a chairperson appointed by the society’s council from amongst members, one person each nominated by the Cooperative Alliance of Kenya (CAK), the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC), and the Attorney General or his representative designated by him in writing.
This implies that every Cooperative officer or manager will be required to subscribe to a code of ethics, with a major target being the chief executives (CEOs), operation managers and departmental heads.
KSPC acting CEO Symon Mburia, addressing the AGM on April 28, 2023 in Nairobi, urged the current CEOs and other senior managers to take advantage of the current window to register as members of KSPC.
He noted that the weak governance structures in a number of cooperatives is characterized by ineffective leadership, micro-management of cooperative societies by the boards of directors, unethical business practices, and inadequate application of good financial management and lack of effective member participation.
The proposed law suggests that a person wishing to obtain a practising certificate will mandatorily be required to apply to the registration committee of KSPC in a prescribed form accompanied by the prescribed fee.
A practising certificate will only be issued by the secretary to the registration committee if satisfied that the person meets such other requirements as may be prescribed and if not, shall decline the application.
The practising certificate will be in force unless its holder is removed from the register or has been suspended, in which case it has to be returned to the council within 30 days from the date of deregistration. If they fail, they will be convicted to pay a fine not exceeding Ksh200,000.
Professional misconduct under which the disciplinary provisions will apply include deliberate failure to follow the laid down cooperative management procedures, or refusal to apply established cooperative values and principles in the course of discharging professional functions.
Other reasons are engaging in corrupt activities, gross negligence in the conduct of professional duties, vices such as nepotism, tribalism, racism and other acts of discrimination in the discharge of professional functions, and disclosure of classified information to any person without the consent of employer or client.
Using their position to obtain favours such as those of a sexual kind, engaging in activities which are in conflict with those of employer or client, and being found guilty of fraud or any dishonest act, among others, are listed as some of the misdemeanours.
Such disciplinary matters will be dealt with by the disciplinary committee consisting of five members appointed by the council, but the defendant will be afforded an opportunity to be heard in person.
The committee will have powers to make recommendations to the council, which, among other things, will include suspension for a specified period, and withdrawal or cancellation of the practising certificate for a period not exceeding five years as may be appropriate, among others.
Any person aggrieved by the decision of the council may within sixty days from the date of the decision appeal to the High Court.
To lift the suspension, the aggrieved person can launch an appeal to the council at any time before the expiry of the given period. If it is satisfied that the appellant was wrongly suspended, then the decision will be reversed upon receipt of a prescribed fee.
By Roy Hezron
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