The Zambia Cooperatives Federation (ZCF) has said the cooperative movement in the country should reclaim its lost glory of being a major contributor to the national gross domestic product (GDP).
ZCF Business Development and Projects Manager, Godfrey Munyoro, said cooperatives must move away from the idea of concentrating only on crop farming and begin to engage in business and commercialise their activities.
Mr Munyoro said the cooperative movement alone has the capacity to employ thousands of people and contribute to the reduction of the high unemployment rate the country is currently faced with.
He explained that the over 1,500 solar milling plants dotted around the country can turn around the country’s economy for the better if they are operated for commercial production of mealie meal and supply of electricity to nearby households.
“Don’t underestimate the capacity of these solar milling plants. They are commercially viable,” he said.
Mr Munyoro said this in Mwinilunga district today during a meeting with cooperative representatives from Ikeleng’i and Mwinilunga districts.
He explained that the federation has since embarked on a sensitisation programme to revamp the cooperative movement in the country.
And ZCF Director General, James Chirwa, reminded the cooperatives of their self-reliance nature and advised them against depending on government for funding and running of their day to day activities.
Mr Chirwa said in a phone address that the cooperative movement in Zambia has failed to progress over the years because some people establish cooperatives for wrong reasons, coupled with the perpetual dependency on government for funding.
He revealed that the federation is establishing a provincial cooperatives development fund to provide easy access to affordable loans by cooperatives in addition to decentralising the Cooperatives Recapitalization Fund (CRF) to provinces.
Mr Chirwa warned cooperatives against engaging in partisan politics saying it is one of the reasons most of them have failed to succeed.
“Cooperatives are nonpolitical entities, we can work with the government of the day without being political,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mwinilunga district cooperatives union chairperson, Roy Kashinakaji, thanked ZCF for organising the meeting.
Mr. Kashinakaji said the meeting made cooperatives reflect on how they can commercialise their activities.
The Zambia Cooperatives Federation (ZCF) is celebrating 50 years of its existence.