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Masaka Elders’ Cooperative on the Brink After Shs170m Goes Missing

Masaka Elders Cooperative Saving and Credit Society has been warned it could wind up if the management and financial woes that has dogged it since 2015 is not resolved.

At stake is members’ savings worth Shs170 million that cannot be accounted for, according to audit reports, leaving a section of members demanding for the heads of the current leadership accused of mismanagement and lack of transparency in running the affairs of the cooperative.

The fight between members of Masaka Elders Cooperative Saving and Credit Society and their leaders climaxed last week with the involvement of police.

A meeting called by angry members to decide the fate of the cooperative leadership was thwarted by Board chair Margret Ntambaazi Nabaggala, who wrote to the registrar of cooperatives to gain a directive for the Masaka District Police Commander to block the meeting.

Trouble for the cooperative begun in 2015 when two separate audits found that the cooperative accounts were being mismanaged and millions of shillings could not be accounted for.

Audits carried out by Masaka District Local Government and Bwanika Certified Accountants found that members’ savings, worth Shs170 million, could not be accounted for.

The then manager, Eric Kizza, was sacked following the audits. He was, however, not prosecuted for the loss of funds.

Andrew Mawanda replaced Kizza but efforts to recover the lost monies remained futile. Mawanda is currently on suspension by the board over allegations of financial mismanagement.

Swaibu Makumbi, a delegate from Masaka Municipality to SACCO’s AGM, said the have failed to recover from the shock and are afraid that their savings could “disappear due to gross financial mismanagement and dishonesty that have been inherent of their managers.”

“The society has for quite some time been trapped in internal misunderstandings and intrigue, to the extent of failing to convene meetings to assess its performance. This has seen leaders spend money without approved budgets,” he said.

According to the delegates interviewed by theCooperator, the SACCO has not had a meeting to discuss and settle the ongoing conflicts by the board members.

Rosemary Nantumbwe, a delegate from Kimaamya Kyabukaza sub county, said the society is facing financial challenges, with members currently struggling to access credit.

She says that as delegates, they are considering disbanding the current board to save the society from collapsing as well as save the little money that could still be available.

Board chairperson Nabaggala admitted she was aware of reports of mismanagement. She, however, added that there is an ongoing audit whose report will guide their next course of action as the Board.

“We will take action on any person held liable of any mistakes, and it was actually those investigations that forced the manager to step aside so as not to jeopardize the inquiry,” she said.

Masaka Elders’ Cooperative Society was established in 2006 to primarily attend to the emerging financial needs of the elderly persons in the eight districts of greater Masaka sub region, but it also later brought on board other people.

Each sub county sends two delegates to form the AGM.

Deo Mulindwa, one of the founders, said their monthly savings ranges between Shs2,000 and Shs5,000, with their shares going for Shs10,000 each.

Records indicate that the cooperative currently has a membership of 3,047 people.

The society has been providing credit to farmers who deal in coffee, piggery and poultry at interest rate of 17 percent. It also offers credit to business community at 20 percent interest rate.

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