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Co-operatives department pushes for sweeping changes to law

Mpeshe Selebalo

 MASERU — The Department of Co-operatives says it is pushing for amendments to the law governing co-operatives to align it with international trends.

The commissioner of co-operatives, ‘Maphamoli Lekoetje, told the Sunday Express on Friday that the proposed amendments will tighten the supervision of co-operatives and boost their effectiveness.

Lekoetje’s remarks come a few weeks before the department hosts two regional meetings for co-operatives in Africa.

Lesotho will next month host the youth co-operatives forum as well as the International Co-operative Alliance Africa (ICA) regional assembly in the capital Maseru.

Delegates are expected to discuss the issue of integrating youths into the ICA executive as well as other concerns about the development of the co-operative movement in the region.

Lekoetje said the department had proposed a raft of amendments on the laws that govern co-operatives.

The amendments, which are still to be submitted to parliament, are expected to make it easier for the department to supervise savings and credit co-operatives.

They are also meant to promote the sustainability of local co-operatives, Lekoetje said.

“On the side of savings and credit co-operatives the amendments will repeal the current practice where financial co-operatives take deposits from non-members,” she said.

“We are planning to change the rules and regulations with regard to membership.”

In other countries partnerships and other companies can be members of co-operatives only to access services offered by co-operatives.

“The world is changing so we have to align ourselves with the changes so that we develop our operations among the co-operatives,” Lekoetje said.

She said local co-operatives that are being run by the youth had proved better organised and were professional in the manner they conducted their businesses.

Lekoetje said youths were expected to benefit from the two upcoming meetings through development of their skills as well as the exchange of ideas to boost their businesses.

“There has been a surge in youth co-operatives. It is important for the youths to have representation at the ICA Africa regional assembly as they are not (currently) represented in Africa,” she said.

“We have seen resuscitation of some co-operatives and currently there is more awareness among different groups judging from the type of co-operatives that have been established of late.”

Lekoetje said local banks had recently shown interest in financing local co-operatives to enable them to exploit business opportunities in the sector.

She said the co-operative movement cut across all sectors of the economy ranging from agriculture, tourism and consultancy services.

Financial co-operatives and those involved in the agriculture sector are among the top performers in recent years, according to her department.

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