[EDITORIAL] Savings: SACCOs cannot afford to lose trust of members

In the recent past, one Umurenge Savings and Credit Society (SACCO) after another has been in the news for ‘more of the same’ wrong reason: their leaders dipping fingers in the coffers for personal gain. Millions of francs in members’ savings and other capital keep going into non-intended ventures and hands.

In the recent past, one Umurenge Savings and Credit Society (SACCO) after another has been in the news for ‘more of the same’ wrong reason: their leaders dipping fingers in the coffers for personal gain. Millions of francs in members’ savings and other capital keep going into non-intended ventures and hands.

Notwithstanding anything, such habits make members lose trust in SACCOs. In this era of promoting savings culture among citizens, there cannot be room for such gaps in management of SACCOs. Citizens need a lot of trust and confidence to believe in the idea that their savings and other efforts in the building of SACCOs in their locale will go into the intended use.

That is why the decision by Rwanda Cooperative Agency (RCA) to hire external auditors and employ contracted staff in all cooperatives in a bid to ensure accountable and efficient management is a timely boost.

There are more than 8,000 cooperatives countrywide made up of more than three million members, according to RCA officials. This is not a small number for a country with a population of 11 million people. It is a statement of their desire to change their livelihood and those of the next generation through savings.

While RCA’s move to employ external auditors to deal with auditing cooperatives to ensure that there is no more mismanagement of cooperative members funds is worthwhile, it would even be more fulfilling in the long run to have deterrent punishment for offenders.

The Government has placed savings among the aspects at the centre stage of efforts to achieve self-reliance among the populace. With such vote of confidence, authorities cannot end at merely promoting savings culture but also setting tougher laws to ensure assets of SACCOs are not pilfered.

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