–Namwala District Commissioner, Gevar Nsanzya, says government believes that the Cooperatives Movement is a strategic partner in rural development because it is a viable channel through which government and development agencies can advance development programs to the rural communities .
Mr Nsanzya said this at the Farmers Training Centre during celebrations to mark International Co-operatives Day whose theme is ‘cooperatives enterprises achieve sustainable development for all’.
He further said government, under the leadership of President Michael Chilufya Sata, recognises the role cooperatives play in economic and social development and endeavours to provide guidance on how best it can improve performance of cooperatives in Zambia.
The DC added that the government, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, has prioritised and set up an appropriate policy for cooperative development, put in place a strategic plan for a period 2013-2017 and embarked on capacity building of cooperatives through education , training and information dissemination.
Mr Nsanzya also disclosed that government is in the process of reviewing the Cooperatives Societies Act No.20 of 1998 to enable the credit union component be on its own.
He said cooperatives are also an avenue for organising the masses that are suffering in poverty and by working with these business organisations the government believes that there will be significant poverty reduction and indeed creation of employment for the people in the communities especially women and the youths.
Mr Nsanzya said government is aware of the challenges faced by cooperatives and wants the cooperative movement to rise to the occasion and assert themselves to face these challenges head-on.
He added that the Government is committed to providing an enabling environment through capacity building activities.
The Namwala DC said government was concerned about governance issues surrounding cooperatives and that so many reports have been received of leaders who mismanage the resources of their members.
He said government wants leaders who are transparent, accountable and committed to the cause of cooperatives in the country.
Mr Nsanzya assured that government will always stand to support good governance business initiatives and see the emergence of vibrant, self-reliant and sustainable cooperatives in the district.
He said he was alive to the fact that a strong vibrant cooperatives movement can complement government’s efforts in so many ways such as employment creation, poverty alleviation, increased productivity and cushioning any form of impending market failures.
And speaking at the same function, Namwala District Cooperative Union Chairman, Simon Hamwene, appealed to government to bring back crop marketing services to the cooperative movement as it used to be in the past.
Mr Hamwene said his association is advocating for a movement of cooperatives to have a ministry of its own just as the Ministry of Gender is.
And speaking at the same function Chief Mukobela of the Ila people of Namwala district expressed happiness with the increase of cooperatives in the district.
Chief Mukobela said cooperatives are very important as they enhance and promote development in a district.
The chief appealed to people not to have cooperatives for the sole purpose of the Farmer Input Support Programme but for developmental programmes as well.