NYANGA The Vice President of Zimbabwe, C Chiwenga celebrated the 29th International Day of Cooperatives recognised by the United Nations and the 101st International Cooperative Day, yesterday in Nyanga.

The aim of the International Day of Cooperatives is to increase awareness on cooperatives and promote the movement’s successes, ideals of international solidarity, economic efficiency, equality, and world peace.

The day is celebrated on the first Saturday of July every year.

This year’s International Commemoration of the Cooperative day was celebrated under the theme “Cooperatives: partners for accelerated sustainable development”.

The International Day of Cooperatives aims to strengthen and extend partnerships between the international cooperative movement and other actors, including governments, at local, national and international levels.

Cooperatives are viewed as partners in development.

“Today we are celebrating a date that has united not only Cooperatives in Zimbabwe but Cooperatives around the world.

It is a date that Cooperatives can reflect on past experiences, setbacks, challenges and achievements.

The Cooperative sector has existed before and after independence and has overcome times of uncertainty.

They have proved themselves to be resilient even in times Covid 19.

Today, together with the rest of the world Cooperatives are celebrating a day of recognition meaning that they are not just a minor sector but a sector which is worthy to be celebrated and recognized as partners for accelerated sustainable development”, remarked Vice President Chiwenga.

Tge Vice President went on to say, “This year as we are celebrating ICA day a call for collaboration is made.

Strong networks and partnership both within Cooperatives and externally will promote greater collaboration and coordination. Cooperatives therefore are encouraged to keep onfighting for national governments and international organizations to turn their existing recognition of the Cooperative sector into a consolidated cooperative paradigm, covering the system of international relationships as a whole.

This is the only way we can think ahead to a future governed by equity, inclusion, and a firm foundation of democracy across the political and economic spheres”.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes the contributions of cooperatives and calls on Cooperatives to work together with the international community in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the cooperative model is well placed to address the challenges posed by transitions to sustainability, including those such as poverty, gender inequality or economic and social exclusion.

Cooperatives are vehicles used to attain these goals.

Cooperatives were encouraged to actively involve themselves in environmental issues and climate change.

The International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) highlights that three million (3 000 000) Cooperatives are operating around the world in nearly every industry and sector of the global economy, engaging 12% of the world population through membership and employment.

They represent a significant portion of the world economy and are aligned with mankind’s highest ideals of democracy, increased income equality and environmental sustainability.

“As we are celebrating the International Day of Cooperatives let me take this opportunity to highlight some of the major achievements by Cooperatives in Zimbabwe.

In Zimbabwe there are more than 10 000 registered Cooperatives.

These Cooperatives are in different sectors such as Housing, Savings and Credit, Agriculture, Fishing, Transport, Mining among other sectors of the economy.

Our Cooperatives in the Agriculture sector are greatly contributing to food security at national level.

For example, in the previous year we had a record of Hurungwe Agricultural Cooperative Union delivered 500 000 tons of maize to the Grain Marketing Board.

Their Agricultural Apex Board assisted members to purchase inputs and marketing of their produce”, Vice President Chiwenga said.

The concept of collaboration is important.

When producers come together in a cooperative, individuals benefit from the strength of the collective while preserving their autonomy.

They increase their negotiating power for better prices and access to capital and markets.

Cooperative members enjoy the services offered by their cooperatives like group purchasing, marketing and skills-building to help them innovate. 

Cooperative assists in diversify their products and adaptation to changing markets.

As a result, through a cooperative, producers can improve their productivity, strengthen their position in the value chain, and build more sustainable livelihoods to families, communities and the nation as a whole. Cooperatives are contributing to SDG by ensuring food security and poverty alleviation within communities, remarked the Vice President.

Government through the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development is working towards an establishment of an online digital marketing platform.

The use of online platforms secure clients who primarily want to engage with producers.  It raises awareness on who is producing and selling what type of products.

If an online digital marketing system is put in place Cooperatives in Zimbabwe and those from other countries will connect and interact on the platform.

Leveraging digital space as a marketing tool can help our Cooperatives create brand awareness and product online visibility.

Housing Cooperatives have proven to be excellent partners in building homes for people who cannot afford to build on their own due to low incomes they earn.

Examples of notable housing Cooperatives settlements in Zimbabwe are Hopley B Housing Union Cooperative in Harare, North wing Housing Cooperative in Marondera, while in Mutare we have Mutare Housing Cooperative Union.

“I would like to assume that among the crowd gathered here for International Day of Cooperatives celebrations there are individuals who benefitted from Housing cooperatives, said Vice President Chiwenga.

According to the Zimbabwe National Federation of Cooperatives 2022 report, more than one hundred and ninety eighty thousand three hundred and eighty four (198 384) housing units were built across the country.

These housing units do not include houses built on undesignated areas or unapproved wetlands but those approved by the relevant authorities.

Vice President said that, “government strongly encourages Housing Cooperatives to desist from settling themselves on undesignated areas or unapproved wetlands.

I am encouraging all housing settlements to be develop and meet housing standards as per local authorities by-laws.

Government will partner with other development partners to upgrade Housing Cooperatives settlements to make them habitable areas in terms of roads, water and sewer”.

According to reports from Savings and Credit Cooperatives, financial cooperatives have a membership of 24 585.

In the year 2022 alone the members managed to save USD 12 769 208.00 and issued out loans worth USD 11 000 000.00.

They have USD 7 510 420 assets value with USD 213 104 reserves.

SACCOs are an integral part of sustainable financial service provision and financial inclusion in developing economies.

They have operations within communities they serve, some of which are out of reach of the services of banks and other financial institutions.

Functional local Sacco’s structures and systems improve access and affordability of financial services to members of these grassroots communities therefore leaving no one and no place behind in terms of financial inclusion.

Cooperatives are people centered hence they are sources of decent work.

In 2022 Manhenga Entrepreneurs Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Mashonaland Central Province officially opened blocks of 40 marketing stalls for use by its members.

This initiative by Cooperators to provide decent workspace to members is encouraged across all cooperatives.

The construction of the Cooperative Block is a result of members pooling their resources together and construct decent workspace which will increase productivity in the informal sector.

We are looking forward to more Cooperatives block and state of the art housing locations as we are striving to achieve the country’s vision of attaining an upper middle class economy by 2030.  

The Government is currently reviewing Cooperative model in Zimbabwe.

The research has been carried out with a view to review and rebrand the Cooperative Model in Zimbabwe to bring it in line with the development trajectory as provided in the Vision 2030 and National Development Strategy (NDS) 1.

The major objective is to determine the Cooperative model’s viability, profitability, productivity, and contribution to the current socio-economic development in line with Vision 2030.

Last year a government delegation embarked on a study visit to Rwanda.

The major objectives of the study tour to Rwanda was to learn about their policy, legal and institutional frameworks governing Cooperatives in Rwanda and how this have contributed to a successful Cooperative Movement in their country.

Zimbabwe will borrow some of the principles that can be applied to us to improve our own model as well.

“Let me take this opportunity therefore, to acknowledge and thank our sponsors who assisted the National Federation of Cooperatives to plan and organize this event.

I would like to thank the Zimbabwe National Federation of Cooperatives for spearheading preparations for the celebrations of the International Day of Cooperative”, Vice President said.

“Capacitation of Cooperative leaders, members of cooperatives and the general public must be an ongoing exercise. These training exercises must be conducted regularly.

In conclusion I would like to assure all cooperatives that as the government we support Cooperatives in building a better Zimbabwe.

To all Cooperators gathered here today “NYIKA INOVAKWA NEVENE VAYO”.

Let us unite to build our country.

Thank you for participating in the celebrations for International Day of Cooperatives”, the Vice President said.

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