Swaziland
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GERMAN BANK ASSISTING IN ESTABLISHING CO-OPS BANK

MBABANE – The National Association of German Cooperative Banks (BVR) is reportedly assisting the local cooperatives to establish their own bank in Eswatini.

This was revealed by the President of the Board of Directors of the National Cooperative Federation of Eswatini (NCFE), also known as Ingcongwane Yelubambiswano, Sifiso Mhlongo, during their commission by the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade, Manqoba Khumalo, yesterday.
The meeting was held at the Ministry of Commerce’s boardroom where all the new Board of Directors of NCFE were introduced to the minister.
The Board will be in office for a period of two years. The Board of Directors is made up of members that were duly elected from the three Apex bodies, which are the Eswatini National Youth Cooperatives Alliance (ESNYCA), Eswatini Association of Savings and Credit Cooperatives (ESASCCO) and Eswatini Multipurpose Cooperative Union (ESWAMCU).

Efforts

Mhlongo stated that BVR was assisting them in their efforts of realising their dream of having their bank. He said in their strategic plan they had hoped that by 2024 the bank should have been started to be established. He said it was unfortunate that time was not on their side and their dream was left behind. Mhlongo who is a Member of the Eswatini Association of Savings and Credit Cooperatives (ESASCCO) pleaded with the minister to assist them in realising this dream of having their own bank.  

He urged the minister to further negotiations with the BVR to continue assisting the NCFE in their dream.  Mhlongo also touched on the need for markets for their members who were in the agriculture sector. He said it was their wish for the ministry to assist them in securing markets for the cooperatives who were farmers.

The president also appreciated the news that the Cooperatives Bill was getting ready to be passed in Parliament. He said such a Bill would address their concern regarding the two-year period in office for the Board of Directors of NCFE.  Mhlongo also complained about the delays in replacement of the commissioner of cooperatives as such was affecting their operations. It is worth noting that the post of the commissioner of cooperatives was left vacant following the retirement of Nonhlanhla Mnisi last year.

Establishment

In his remarks, Minister Khumalo appreciated the news about the BVR was assisting in the establishment of the cooperatives bank.  He said the establishment of the bank was long overdue as cooperatives were handling a lot of money as reports indicated that in the past three years cooperatives handled over E3 billion. He said such necessitated the need of the cooperatives bank. Khumalo said what they would like to know as a ministry was on where the delays were in order to see where the ministry needed to intervene.

He noted that obtaining a license to open a bank was not a big issue as it did not take long. He said the board should indicate their challenges in this regard. Khumalo said the NCFE Board of Directors was expected to diligently provide critical leadership, management and decision-making which was vital to the oversight development, growth and sustainability of the cooperative sector.  

Sector

He said the cooperative sector was privileged to be led by such a committed and talented group of people at the helm of NCFE, and we anticipate that the diverse cooperative experience they bring would add significant value. He also mentioned that he was aware that the NCFE Board of Directors had undergone an orientation course and were aware of their duties.

“May I remind you that, the Cooperative Act, 2003 gives you a mandate to develop all types of cooperatives in various sectors of the economy,” said Khumalo.  He said the ministry, therefore, expected to see sustainable and autonomous cooperatives across all sectors of the economy. He said the economy needed cooperatives that would not only produce raw materials, but ones which would sell the end product in the market place. He said the economy needed funding, investments and savings which all readily available at disposal in SACCOS.

He urged the board to use the strategic partners and practice cooperation to the best of their ability. Khumalo said the Eswatini Cooperative Development College (ECODEC) was an institution strategically placed for cooperative education, training and information for the members, Board of Directors and general public interested in co-operatives and cooperation groups.  “I hope you will assist in shaping the institution to reach new heights. The Ministry will continue to support and strengthens partnerships that aim at sustaining the cooperative movement,” Khumalo said.