Former chief executive officer for Malawi Union of Savings & Credit Cooperatives (MUSCCO), Sylvester Kadzola, who died last week after a long illness, has been described as a national treasure by those who knew him as he played a pivotal role in making the Savings & Credit Cooperatives (SACCO) movement thrive.
He died on Friday, October 18 and buried on Sunday October 20 at his home village in Mponela, Dowa District.
SACCOs are now under the regulation by the Reserve Bank of Malawi as financial service providers and are making huge positive contributions to ordinary people's economic lives and late Kadzola played a pivotal role towards this achievement.
His workmate at MUSCCO, Triza Tsiga Margreta, who is now general manager of Mudi SACCO, one of the most successful cooperative whose headquarters are at Chichiri in Blantyre, said Kadzola had great passion for the movement that led to the huge growth of the movement.
"He was one of the pioneers of the SACCO movement in Malawi. He was a person who took every challenge as an opportunity to learn something new.
"As one of the SACCO pioneers, he had that powerful passion for the movement in Malawi and he was a renowned person in Africa and beyond the Africa borders.
"He championed the lobby of Financial Cooperatives Act in Malawi. To me Mr. Kadzola was a mentor to many of us. He groomed me to where I am today in the SACCO movement," Margreta.
Times Group Managing Director Leonnard Chikadya, who at one point was a technical director in the MUSCCO board said Kadzola was a national treasure and an encyclopedia of the SACCO movement.
"Today, SACCOs are now regulated by the Reserve Bank but not many people know who was behind this regulation," Chikadya said.
"He spearheaded this important governance system of SACCOs to raise the profile of the movement and accelerate the maturity of the cooperative. Sylvester's passion for SACCOs was infectious.
"I first met him in 1993 when he was regional manager for the South under MUSCCO. At that time I championed the formation of Sunbird SACCO.
"He later invited me to join MUSCCO Board as technical director assisting him and the MUSCCO Board on financial technical matters.
"He facilitated many tours of some directors to Kenya to assist them appreciate the success story of Kenya in mobilizing national savings development and promote growth of the financial services sector.
"We are all indebted to Sylvester and his legacy will remain forever. What a talent gone into hiding. The whole movement is in shock. May his soul rest in peace."
Robert Mbeza, who joined MUSCCO in 1990 as a field officer in Central Region when Kadzola was then regional manager Central Region, said he remembers him as a great mentor in the movement.
"He was such a great presenter who dazzled world cooperative leaders in the many world conferences and meetings he had been to as a motivational speaker.
"This is a huge loss to Malawi's SACCO movement but we can celebrate his life in that he changed for the better many people's economic lives."
Canadian cooperator Karen McBride said she first met Kadzola in 2011 when she and her husband lived in Lilongwe and worked at MUSCCO for about a year, spread out over two visits in 2013 and 2014.
McBride, who forms part of Canadian partners in the promotion of an orphanage called Likuni Village in Lilongwe, said she got the link to the Likuni project through his association with Kadzola.
"The link with Likuni Village project really comes form Sylvester when I was asked to provide Leadership Training for the women at MUSCCO.
"Part way through the course, I asked the women what their dreams were and one lady, Jovitta said it was to help orphans.
"Hers is a story for another day but what I can say is that I enjoyed my stay and work in Malawi because of Sylvester and I have fond memories of Malawi through him. May his soul Rest In Peace."