Zim to amend Cooperative Societies Act

Kudzai Chipamuriwo

ZIMBABWE has started conducting stakeholder meetings across the country aimed at gathering information necessary for amending the Cooperative Societies Act in line with the new Constitution and the changing socio-economic environment.
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) minister Sithembiso Nyoni is leading the process that is likely to see wholesome changes to the Act.  
SMEs ministry director Evelyn Mutsvangwa this week told stakeholders attending a stakeholder consultative meeting in Harare that the law must also be reviewed as part of strategies to ratify the International Labour Organisation recommendation on the promotion of co-operatives.
“The Act was implemented in 2006 and things have been changing, therefore, the law must be realigned to suit the prevailing situation. International and regional standards of cooperatives must be in line with ours and the Act has become redundant as some sections are no longer applicable to the current situation,” she said.
Mutsvangwa noted that some people were not abiding to the stipulation of the Act, hence the need to align it with the Constitution.
“There are certain provisions of our Act which are not in line with the current Constitution. For instance, the new Constitution provides that the boards must have equal representation of women and men but our boards are not like that,” she said adding that people were proposing for the clarification of other sections as well.
The Cooperative Societies Act governs the function of cooperative societies, their administration, formation registration and jurisdiction.
However, there is consensus that with small and medium scale enterprises now contributing significantly to national economic activity, the legislation should reflect the real situation on the ground.
Organisation of Collective Cooperatives Zimbabwe member Albert Vingwe said the current Act was silent on the proper definition of cooperatives.
“Things were mixed up in the Act and a lot were not clarified for example the provision of minimum and maximum number of members in a cooperative. The new law must specify procedure for removal of management committee other than at an annual general meeting in case of incompetence,” he said.
Vingwe added that the Act was restricting cooperatives to remain under one economic sector activity.
“The policy must allow cooperatives to diversify for this will help them to participate in other businesses and are able to compete with each other hence boosting the economy,” he said.
Zimbabwe National Federation of Cooperatives vice president Ezekiel Karimanzira said the Act and policy must tally.
“The Act and the policy were not merged and if the law is enforced correctly things will work smoothly,” he said.

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