OFFICIALS from Rwanda Cooperative Agency (RCA) have announced plans to hire external auditors and employ contracted staff in all cooperatives in a bid to ensure accountable and efficient management.
The move is part of efforts to curb rampant embezzlement and poor accountability for funds in various cooperatives, leading to losses.
Speaking at a news conference in Kigali, yesterday, Appolo Munanura, RCA director-general, said the agency has already advertised positions for external auditors, who will deal with auditing cooperatives to ensure that there is no more mismanagement of cooperative members funds.
There are more than 8,000 cooperatives countrywide made up of more than three million members, according to officials.
Munanura said given the importance of cooperatives in the country, their management should be tightened to secure members’ funds.
Munanura acknowledged that it has been a challenge for RCA staff to reach every cooperative countrywide for monitoring yet it is also hard for cooperatives to supervise themselves.
There were cases of embezzlement of funds in cooperatives especially in Umurenge Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs), leaving millions of francs lost.
“To be more efficient and reach every cooperative, we have come up with the solution and plan to work with external auditors who will help us,” Munanura said.
He explained that the external supervisors will act under the guidelines of RCA to ensure that they work efficiently and help minimise losses incurred due to mismanagement.
“This is the sustainable way that we hope will minimise mismanagement among cooperatives,” he added.
Munanura stressed that the cooperative agency is undergoing a transformational agenda with hope that cooperatives will be well managed in the future.
“We are moving towards transformational agenda, we realised that funds of members are mismanaged by heads of cooperatives. But we plan to remove them and hire contracted staff. However, change does not come at once and one has to plan and come up with solutions,” he said.
Meanwhile, Munanura said RCA has introduced new guidelines for all cooperatives of motorcyclists to ensure that they operate in a way that benefits members and contributes to national development.
He said, previously, there was rampant mismanagement and members have been complaining over unjustified contributions that were imposed without their consent.
Under the new guidelines, Munanura said, motorcyclists will be paying contributions agreed on in cooperatives once in a month.
“We focused on collecting contributions, management and use of collected funds because it has been always unclear among operators who used to wonder who collects the money, how much is it and how it is used,” he said.
“We want uniformity in this among all cooperatives and that all the contributions are paid in financial institutions and bank slips are issued to whoever pays their contributions,” Munanura said.
There are more than 240 motorcyclists cooperatives countrywide made up of over 19,500 members regrouped in eight unions.
Celestin Ntaganzwa, head of federation of motorcyclists in Rwanda, said it is a positive move for RCA to work with external auditors and contracted staff as it would reduce losses incurred due to mismanagement of funds in some cooperatives.
On the new guidelines among motorists’ cooperatives, Ntaganzwa said it would also help improve accountability and service delivery.