APAC. Members of Apac Teachers’ Savings and Credit Cooperative Organization are bemoaning the looming collapse of their SACCO due to what they called the mismanagement of the SACCO’s funds by its leaders.
The District SACCO reportedly received Shs.200 million from the Government as part of the installments in fulfillment of the Shs.25billion pledged to be invested in teachers’ SACCOs around the country to improve teachers’ welfare by affording them soft loans to supplement their incomes.
The pledge was made by President Museveni in 2015, following protracted negotiations with the Uganda National Teachers’ Union(UNATU) in which the latter was demanding an upward review of teachers’ salaries.
Consequently, the government agreed to remit the money(shs.25billion) in installments over a five-year period starting with the 2015/16 financial year. It would be channeled through Walimu SACCO – the Umbrella SACCO of all teachers in the country which would then subdivide the installment amongst its affiliate SACCOs across the country.
For Apac teachers’ SACCO however, it appears the money never got to serve its intended purpose. Sources told theCooperator that on receiving the money in 2016, the SACCO’s leaders allegedly shared it among themselves, rendering the Sacco non-functional since there was no money left on the account to serve clients.
At this year’s Teachers Day celebrations at Ikwera Girls’ Secondary School, Kwania district, the District Education Officer, Billy Okunyu confirmed the allegations of financial impropriety on the part of the SACCO’s leaders, warning that they would face arrest if they fail to pay back the money.
“These people (the SACCO’s leaders) lent money among them and are now failing to pay back. But we will ensure that they return the money, or be arrested,” he assured the teachers.
Mr Godfrey Akodo, the chairperson Uganda National Teachers Union(UNATU) in Apac attributed the financial crisis at the SACCO to lack of strident oversight over the management of the SACCO’s affairs, noting that it had eroded any semblance of accountability at the SACCO.
“There’s a leadership crisis. Some few individuals exercise disproportionate power over the SACCO. They have been appointing the executive, and if you do not dance to their tune, you are kicked out,” he said.
Francis Leodong, a teacher at Apac Primary School also bemoaned the lack of democratic decision making and member control of the SACCO’s affairs, arguing that it had enabled the abuse of the SACCO’s funds to go on, unabated.
“When you come up with any complaint during a meeting, they say you are undisciplined and threaten you with disciplinary action. So, we ended up losing interest in the SACCO,” he said.
Akodo warned the SACCO would miss out on further funding if they fail to account for the Shs.200million.
However, when contacted, Peter Otim, the chairperson Apac Teachers SACCO denied allegations that the SACCO leadership had lent the SACCO’s money amongst themselves, and instead blamed “some SACCO members,” who he said borrowed the said money between 2016 and 2017 but have since failed to pay back the loan.
“We were lenient with them thinking they are the people who understand but they’ve since proved uncooperative. Worse still, the creation of Kwania District made some to migrate before paying our money,” Otim said.
He said that he would cooperate with the district authorities in efforts to recover the money and that those who are adamant to pay the loan will be arrested and taken to court. “The last resort will be us going to the RDCs of these two districts to sanction those who fail to pay us,” he said.