By Stephen Makabila.
The new Commissioner for Co-operative Development, Mary Mungai, has spelled out her four major priorities for the sector’s transformation, strongly indicating it will not be business as usual for the sector.
“I intend to bring positive change for the sector’s development, not to add up to the statistics of those who have held the position,” a confident Mungai told Sacco Review during an exclusive interview in her office recently.
Mungai took over on December 8, 2016 from Mr. Philip Gichuki who has been re-deployed as the Head of the Ethics Commission for Co-operative Societies (ECCOS), in a major re-organization of the Head office by the Principal Secretary (PS), State Department of Co-operatives, Mr. Ali Noor Ismail.
Among her priorities will be to ensure the new Co-operative policy is unveiled within this month.
“Under the new devolved system, we have no clear structures and the new policy will help address such challenges. The Consultant working on the Draft policy will help align it to constitutional and development blue-prints before validation by stakeholders. It will then go through Senate and Parliament and finally Cabinet,” explained Mungai.
Her second priority will be digitalizing issues of data in the Co-operative sector. We are developing a soft ware to digitalize data services by June this year. The public requires services closer to them, even in the comfort of their homes through their mobiles,” noted Mungai.
“We will strengthen Inter-Governmental Relations Platform, where the national and County governments will have to work closely, and especially between the State Department of Co-operatives and the Council of Governors (COG),” she added.
“There are much more operational priorities but what I can also mention for now is documentation of procedures for a uniform service to all our stakeholders,” noted Mungai.
The new Co-operative policy will address the issue of Affirmative Action in the co-operative sector she noted, adding: “We have not met the constitutional threshold in the sector as far as affirmative action is concerned but so far we are not doing badly. Look at Saccos such as Kimisitu, Shirika, Bingwa and Safaricom, they have strong women leadership and representation to mention but a few.”
Mungai said she will ensure youth and women numbers in Co-operatives are boosted, especially in Agricultural Co-operatives which are currently not attractive to young people.
“In the Agricultural Co-operatives we are introducing business models and value addition to help attract the youth and this is going to work,” she added.
Mungai, who holds a Masters in Agricultural Economics and a BSc in Agriculture, formerly worked in the Agriculture Ministry as a Senior Agricultural Officer until when she joined the Co-operative sector in 2005 as an Assistant Commissioner for Co-operatives.
She rose through the ranks, becoming a Senior Assistant Commissioner for Co-operatives in 2007 and Deputy Commissioner for Co-operatives in 2012 before her elevation to Commissioner for Co-operatives last December. “My driving principles are passion in whatever I do because I always want results. I love teamwork challenges and new ideas,” noted Mungai.
She says her role models in Public service are former Permanent Secretaries (PSs) Dr. Romano Kiome and James Ongwae because they were both focused and result-oriented, and they left a mark in the positions they held.