Saccos leadership succession plans put on hold by Covid-19
Top five billionaire savings and credit co-operatives (Saccos) are among thousands of registered societies in the country whose 2020 annual general meetings (AGMs) have been dashed by coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Other 15 societies in the billionaire category with savings and assets spread across the country valued at between Sh1 to 10 billion have also been affected.
The big five – in the 20 billionaire category – are mostly headquartered in Nairobi.
Legally, co-operative societies’ financial year ends on April 30 by which time they are supposed to have conducted their AGMs or Annual Delegates Conferences (ADCs).
It is during these meetings that they should give report on the performance of their entities in the ending financial years and also replace all Sacco leaders, whose terms were to expire before the suspended meetings.
They are also supposed to announce dividends among other things that members would be getting according to the financial performance in relation to the members’ accumulated savings and which determine individual percentages.
More so, they also reveal each individual co-operative society’s accumulated savings, losses, but above all assets that belong to members and make decisions for the society.
However, the Commissioner for Co-operatives sent out notice to all societies that the pending AGMs/ADCs were suspended indefinitely.
In a circular dated March 26, the acting commissioner for co-operatives Geoffrey Njang’ombe directed saccos, whose statements had already been audited, to pay dividends and interests awaiting ratification in the next AGM.
The big five hit billionaire co-operatives, according to State Department for Co-operatives, are led by mainline government ministries’ societies namely; Mwalimu National which tops with over Sh40.5 billion followed by Stima Sacco with Sh28.6 billion.
Others are Harambee with Sh25.1 billion, Kenya Police with Sh24.3 billion and Afya Sacco with total assets of Sh17.1 billion.
However, nationally there are more than 20 co-operative societies, mainly Saccos that have already hit the over one billion shilling mark, though still less than Sh20 billion.
Afya Sacco CEO Felix Ndoi said the society had already prepared for the branch elections in the counties before the national ADC at which elections of certain officials were also going to be conducted by delegates.
“Though we had prepared for everything including branch elections and had even booked the traditional venue at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre for the meeting, but with the notice we had to cancel the events,” he said.
Apart from the cancellation, he said, a big percentage of members who are from Ministry of Health and are actively involved in the fight against the spread of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic could not have left their duties to attend the AGM.
The government says by 2017, the country had 22, 883 registered co-operatives with projects showing a growth of more than 7.3 per cent annually and contributing over 45 per cent of the country’s annual gross domestic product (GDP) but most of them had not conducted AGMs as at the end of their financial year – last month.
Peter Munya, the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Co-operatives, Fisheries and Livestock says the movement controls more than Sh1.9 trillion in accumulated savings, assets, investments, among other properties of enormous value.
“For the first time in the history of the co-operative movement, we are experiencing unexpected and enormous challenges just like all sectors of the country’s economy.
The disruptions of the movement’s AGMs and ADCs were inevitable with the presence of Covid-19 among us,” he said.
He said the principal issues concerning the disruptions being the safety of the people since coronavirus is capable of infecting and decimating huge sections of the population within a very short time as has been witnessed elsewhere in the world.
Co-operatives Societies’ Regulatory Authority (Sasra) said given the deadly pandemic endangering the lives of tens of millions not only in Kenya but globally, there was no option but suspend the AGMs/ADCs to protect lives.