By Kamau Njoroge
Members of the controversial Ekeza Sacco have warned politicians to keep off its affairs after the government allowed the Sacco to resume normal operations.
The members blamed a section of local politicians of orchestrating the Sacco’s downfall for their own selfish political gain and to the detriment of welfare and economic prosperity of thousands of members.
The Sacco, founded by businessman-cum-preacher David Kariuki Ngari alias Gakuyo, who is also the proprietor of Gakuyo Real Estate, had more than 30,000 members and a net worth of over Ksh3 billion before it was placed under receivership in 2019.
The 500 plus members who spoke after a meeting in Juja, accused politicians of peddling lies and propaganda that disgraced the Sacco, leading to its collapse
Led by Ephantus Thumbi, the members petitioned the government to ensure that the Sacco affairs will not be interfered with by the political class as it strives to get back on its feet after being given a new lifeline.
“We know the politicians who vehemently fought Ekeza Sacco for their own political ends and we are aware that they are gearing up for seats in the next general elections. Let them be warned to keep off the Sacco’s affairs. They made us suffer and we will not allow them to subject us to the same suffering again,” Thumbi said.
The members said they suffered huge setbacks in their investments that they had made through the Sacco after it was ruined, charging that its closure halted their economic progress.
“Most of us had made huge investments in land and other properties through the Sacco. Our social-economic well-being was progressing very well until the Sacco was ruined,” said Joseph Kamau, a member.
Mwago Karanja, Thika Tuk Tuk Association chairman, said that tuk tuk and boda boda operators also suffered the wrath of the collapse, saying they used to get loans at very low interest rates.
“We bought tuk tuks and motorbikes for our members and we were able to easily repay our loans. The Sacco closure was a nightmare. We were left at the mercies of other lenders whose loan interests are exorbitant. Currently our members’ motorbikes and tuk tuks are being auctioned by the lenders,” Mwago said.
The members said that they have already started re-investing with the Sacco and called on other members to invest afresh.
“We know the sweet gains we reaped through the Sacco and that is why we are re-investing in it. This is the reason we are telling off politicians because what they do best is ruin. We don’t want to be plunged into the same hole we’ve been,” Triza Wanjiku said.
The Sacco was reverted to members during a special general meeting organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, jointly with the caretaker committee at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi a while ago. More than 200 members attended the meeting.
Deputy Commissioner of Co-operatives Francis Wekesa, who chaired the meeting, told members that the government was up to the task to get back to its feet.
He told members that they could start depositing and borrowing funds as guided by the Sacco’s bylaws and the Co-operative laws, quipping that the Sacco is free to resume its business.
“Ekeza has been able to make refunds and compensate investors who had paid for land. This is why the government is giving the Sacco a new lifeline,” Wekesa said.