Mystery of contentious sacco bill clause deepens

Thursday, January 30th, 2020 00:00 |
Mystery of contentious sacco bill clause deepens.

Questions still abound about the contentious move to introduce a special class of members—Social Impact Members (SIM) —into Savings and Credit Cooperative Society (Saccos) which was later expunged from a bill already in Parliament.

The National Assembly Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Committee and the Department of Cooperatives yesterday confirmed to Business Hub the amendments contained in the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments No.2) Bill, 2018 were deleted after it emerged that the sponsors of the special clause were anonymous.

The Bill, which had already gone through several stages in Parliament, would have amended the Sacco Societies Act 2008 and Cooperative Societies Act Cap 490 to allow SIM members into saccos which control more than Sh1 trillion in assets.

Touchy issue

Committee chairman Kanini Kega said none of the key government agencies and prominent actors in charge of the co-operative movement claimed ownership of the touchy clause thus leading to its removal from the main bill.

Even as MPs expunged the amendments from the main bill, questions still linger over the secrecy of the originators of the amendments and their intentions.

“We sought clarification from the cooperative department and other institutions that deal with the movement but nobody knew the source of the clause.

After further investigations we realised that some mischievous characters with assistance of senior government officers had sneaked in the amendments to use the cooperative movement as a platform to advance their business interests,” said Kanini on phone.

But some members in the movement claim those behind the changes wanted to use the Sacco sub-sector as a platform to mobilise resources for financing political campaigns for 2022 General Election.

“We carried out a due diligence on the source of the amendments before going ahead with discussion and approval and realised that some invisible hands were behind them.

Their motive was not very clear and was not in line with cooperative principles,” he added.

Co-operative Development Principal Secretary Ali Noor Ismail confirmed that the amendments did not have the goodwill of the entire cooperative movement.

“We did not know the source of the content and thus our obvious option was to disown the amendments in order to ensure stability in the Sacco sub-sector.

Indeed, we learnt of the adjustments when the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments No 2) Bill, 2018 was published,” said Ismail.

If the amendments were passed by parliament, Saccos would have been expected to accommodate SIM without subjecting them to the recognised recruitment process as enshrined in the current legislations governing the cooperative sector.

Intensive lobbying

Cooperative Alliance of Kenya (CAK) chief executive Daniel Marube said were it not for intensive lobbying by movement stakeholders, the Sacco sub-sector would have been subjected to other economic crimes such as money laundering.

“The clauses contradicted the principles of the cooperative movement and goodwill from the cooperators and thus would have killed the saving culture in the 12,000 registered Saccos controlling more than Sh1 trillion in assets,” said Marube.

The movement controls 35 per cent of national savings. The 22,000 societies house more than 14 million members and is rated top in Africa and seventh globally.

More on Economy and Policy