Heather Charema Herald Reporter
Government has directed all housing co-operatives to submit audited financial statements within six months as it tightens screws on poor accountability and mismanagement of housing co-operatives in the country. Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises Development and Co-operatives Sithembiso Nyoni told journalists in Harare recently that Government wants to get tough with societies which violate the law on the administration of co-operatives.
“The ministry is going to get very tough with any society which will in future contravene any provisions of the Co-operative Societies Act (governing the running of co-operatives),” she said.
“It is the ministry’s agenda to bring sanity into housing co-operatives by bringing all errant societies to book.”
Minister Nyoni said most housing co-operatives did not have audited books, were not holding annual general meetings and were mismanaging co-operative funds.
She said housing co-operatives were mired in scandals of double allocation of stands, expelling members without following laid-down procedures and not carrying any development over long periods.
“The co-operatives affected most by these problems are housing co-operatives mainly in Harare,” Minister Nyoni said.
“They are caused by a number of factors, chief among them lack of transparency and accountability in the use of societies’ funds and management committees’ desire to perpetuate their tenure.”
In terms of Section 36 of the Co-operative Societies Act, audited financial statements, audit reports of activities throughout the years should be submitted to the Registrar within six months of the end of every financial year.
Section 48 orders all registered societies to convene annual general meetings within six months after the end of each financial year.
At these meetings, audits are presented and elections conducted.
Co-operatives are required to have bank accounts into which all contributions by members are directly deposited.
“All books of accounts and records to the satisfaction of the Registrar of Co-operatives should be produced and audited by a public auditor,” Minister Nyoni said.
“All contributions by co-operators are to be deposited directly into the co-operative account. No monies should be paid direct to the treasurer or to a land developer or into a land developer’s account.”
A number of desperate home-seekers have lost thousands of dollars due to corruption and mismanagement of housing co-operatives by land developers.