Namibia: Govt 'Stokvel' Under Fire

23 February 2021

ANALYSTS are skeptical about the government's decision to introduce a credit scheme co-operative for public servants.

Secretary to the Cabinet George Simataa a fortnight ago said the government will next week launch the Namibia Public Service Savings and Credit Cooperative (Namsacco).

In a document dated 15 February 2020, Simataa said the initiative was derived from the Savings and Credit Co-operatives (Sacco) model, which the government identified as a good platform for public servants to save and borrow mobilised funds.

Trade Union Congress of Namibia (Tucna) and Teachers' Union of Namibia (TUN)'s secretary general, Mahongora Kavihuha yesterday said the idea is hypocritical, childish and overtaken by other activities.

He said the government copied the idea from trade unions, namely TUN and the Public Servants Union of Namibia (PSUN), which already established co-operatives.

"The two co-operatives by PSUN and TUN are named Cre-do and TUN-Sacco respectively. Although the PSUN has a deduction code already, TUN has been waiting for a code for the past four years. Instead of introducing the co-operative, the government should move to expedite the process for established co-operatives to receive a deduction code," Kavihuha said.

He said there is no need for employers (the government) to create a co-operative when it has the opportunity to ease up on regulations for public servants to borrow from the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF).

The trade unionist said the government set up a board for the co-operative, but the law states that co-operatives' boards may not be set up without the input of members at an annual general meeting.

"The government has violated the laws and we cannot allow them to go ahead with this. I think they are coming up with this initiative to divert attention, so public servants may not demand from the GIPF," he said.

Kavihuha said the same Cabinet had approved an amount of N$11 million in funds from public servants to be deposited with the SME Bank that has since failed, and now they are approving of another scheme.

"Public servants, open your eyes. This is the same Cabinet. Who are they fooling?" he asked.

Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) president Mike Kavekotora said he is skeptical about the initiative despite it being a good move, adding that the government should not allow corruption with the implementation of the initiative.

"It may collapse if we allow the culture of corruption to prevail. It is a good idea, but it is being implemented in a fraudulent, corrupt culture," he said.

He called on the government to be transparent when setting up a cooperative.

"I am skeptical in the sense that I wonder whether it would benefit public servants without it being public relations by the government," he said.

Meanwhile, Simataa said the Cabinet in March 2018 supported the establishment of Namsacco under the Co-operatives Act, 1996.

"Funds mobilised would be at affordable terms with a view to ease their financial burdens and improve their general wellness. The Sacco is targeting public servants," he said.

All government offices, ministries and agencies sent learning and development officers and public relations officers to an awareness session before next week's launch.

"The founding board and supervisory committee had been established at the founders' meeting on 28 March 2018 in accordance with the Co-operatives Act, 1996," Simataa said.

"This was to further disseminate information about Namsacco within their offices," he said.

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