Saccos should self-regulate to stem ineptitude


The National Cooperative Policy that has since transmuted into Sessional Paper No 4 of 2020 advocates for, among other things, the adoption of self-regulation by the cooperative sector as it grapples to find its space in the highly competitive business environment.

Self-regulation is intended to create a paradigm shift in the manner cooperative management is carried out. Presently, more attention is paid to compliance to policies and regulations that are fairly rigid and have little or no room for flexibility.

This is referred to as “transactional leadership” as opposed to “transformational” or “transformative” leadership.

In the latter case, organizations are constantly alive to the dynamics of their industry and therefore embrace a flexible approach aimed at enabling them to remain relevant and competitive.

The practice where cooperatives adhere religiously to their plans/budgets may serve as effective control measures but at the same time, they forgo many opportunities that could otherwise be explored in the course of their business.

As the sector has grown in leaps and bounds, there has arisen the need to embrace global best practices. 

Why self-regulation?

Our cooperatives are engaged in diverse socio-economic activities but are not on the same level of development or advancement.

By embracing self-regulation, cooperatives can have a free hand in setting their goals and monitoring their implementation.

Above all, the feeling that they are in charge of their destiny would propel the leadership to work even harder, instead of buck-passing which has been the norm with many players pointing fingers at the delayed enactment of the amended cooperative legislation.

While this has been (and continues to be) the perfect scapegoat, they forget that the Sessional Paper highlights an array of interventions that should be running simultaneously with the review of cooperative legislation. 

For example, there should be capacity building programmes being carried out for the various categories of stakeholders, preparation of education and training materials reflecting devolution and the new normal, preparing cooperatives to embrace the hybrid system of holding general meetings, transforming transport Saccos into transport (service) cooperatives by amending their respective by-laws, etcetera.

It is therefore escapist to hide behind the ongoing review of the Cooperative Societies Act and continue doing business as usual.

The benefits of self-regulation far more outstrip the transactional type of management where cooperatives in the various value chains are expected to operate in a uniform manner guided by very rigid rules and regulations. 

Action plan

We need progressive leaders who are capable of providing effective strategic direction to the institutions they lead.

Good leaders will be felt in terms of rallying their members towards some set goals, as opposed to ‘office holders ‘ who are, by and large, complacent and are likely to resist introduction of new ways of doing business.

For the cooperative sector to take its rightful place in the region and on the global arena, we need to transform it in order to endear it to the majority of youths leveraging on technology, the new tool of trade.

Let the cooperative leadership in the country give adequate space to the technocrats in the sector to create a positive revolution in the country’s cooperative sector.

Ideally, self-regulation should be championed by the various county units as they understand their value chains well.

Such an approach would also absolve the government of perrenial blame in the event mismanagement is perpetrated by the cooperatives themselves. 

What is not in doubt is that the cooperative sector has come of age and should be given the latitude to regulate their internal affairs as long as they operate within the confines of law.

Surely, they cannot be babysat forever!

By Fred Sitati

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