PRETORIA – 30TH JANUARY, 2016 – GOVERNMENT has embarked on preparatory work which will see the setting up cooperatives across the country.
Commerce, Trade and Industry Deputy Minister, Mr. Raymond Mpundu disclosed in Pretoria yesterday that his Ministry was working on a report on the creation of the cooperatives which it envisaged to present to President Edgar Lungu by the end of February this year.
Mr. Mpundu was speaking after leading a team of technocrats on a study tour of selected institutions in Kenya and South Africa which ran from 24 – 30th January, 2016.
The Deputy Minister said the tour was inspired by President Lungu’s address when he opened Parliament in September last year during which he announced that Government would re-introduce the cooperative movement.
“This was a special study tour following a directive from the President that our Ministry should spearhead the reintroduction of these cooperatives. My Minister, in turn instructed that as part of the process, we should undertake studies in two countries where this has been successful,” Mr. Mpundu said.
“In line with the President’s vision we have embarked on a transformation agenda for a smart Zambia for smart Zambians. Cooperatives are one special purpose vehicle through which we can achieve this,” he added.
Mr. Mpundu said it was gratifying to see the level of political will, which had clearly been shown by the President whom he said, was eagerly waiting for the report.
He said with a properly functioning cooperative movement, the President believed that the levels of unemployment would drastically go down with a good number of people being brought into the mainstream economy.
He said the cooperative movement was the third largest employer in the country at the time it was vibrant.
“His Excellency remembers this and wants us to return to those days. The cry of the people of wanting to take part in running the economy will be answered once the cooperative movement is up and running. At the moment we have 38, 000 registered cooperatives which can draw in a lot of people once they are back to life.”
He said Government’s aim was to ensure that operations of the cooperatives cut across all sectors with the major focus on industrialisation which should lead to reduction in imports and consequently result in foreign exchange savings and finally improve the position of the Kwacha against international currencies.
“We expect cooperatives to spearhead rural industrialisation and we anticipate that they will work with the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) who are already funding rural development. This is going to be a brilliant means of diversifying the economy and the benefits are immense,” Mr. Mpundu said.
The Deputy Minister said the tour was a benchmarking process “because we have been through this before and we were a shining example to other countries in the past. Things went wrong for us and it’s now our turn to learn the best practices from others so that we don’t reinvent the wheel.”
The team, during the tour, focused on studying the organisational structures, how government regulated the cooperatives, what laws and regulations cooperatives were expected to abide by, what supervisory and funding mechanisms existed, the working relationship between cooperatives and government, form of support rendered by government, and at what level government involvement in the running of cooperatives was.
Mr. Mpundu said in Kenya, his team met the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Industrialisation and Enterprise Development, operators in the cooperatives, national apex institutions, and cooperative finance officials. In South Africa, the team met Deputy Minister of Small Business Development Ms. Elizabeth Thabethe, national apex institutions, and operators in the cooperative movement.
Those who accompanied the Deputy Minister were CEEC Director General Mr. Likando Mukumbuta, Director of Cooperatives Mr. Shadreck Mungalaba, Acting Chief Planner Mrs. Mwila Daka, Economist Mr. Sydney Choonga, all from the Ministry of Commerce and Mr. Christopher Mapani, Deputy Registrar at the Patents and Companies Registration Agency (PACRA).
Mr. Mpundu said his Ministry will from here move to convene a stakeholders meeting at some point which will include the Government, cooperative operators and experts on cooperatives before a report is compiled.
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