Cooperatives contributing to economic transformation

Sunday, August 27, 2017

President Jacob Zuma says through cooperatives, ordinary people have been empowered to participate in the economy and generate income while giving meaning to government's call for radical economic transformation.

Cooperatives are also at the centre of the much-needed village and township economic revival and are an example of the spirit of "vuk’uzenzele".

“Co-operatives are proven force for economic and social inclusion. In other words, if we are serious about reducing poverty, unemployment and inequality in our country, we must invest more in cooperatives,” President Zuma said on Saturday.

A co-operative is owned by a group of people who usually live in rural or informal communities and work together on a similar venture and share costs and profit.

The president was speaking at the International Cooperatives Day in Bloemfontein under the theme “Deepening Economic Transformation through a Co-operative Development in Southern Africa.”

The celebration, which is organised by the Department of Small Business Development aims to acknowledge and celebrate the role of cooperatives in economic, social and cultural development in South Africa.

President Zuma said government sees cooperatives as vehicles for economic development, democratic economic participation and redistribution of wealth. It is for this reason that government actively supports cooperatives.

Among other interventions, government runs the Cooperatives Incentive Scheme, a grant dedicated to cooperatives with no repayment expected. The grant is managed by the Department of Small Business Development.

More than 50% of the allocated R75 million was accessed by women-owned and led cooperatives in the past financial year.  

Through this fund, President Zuma said the cooperatives acquired in the main, farming implements and inputs, industrial overlocks and embroidery machines as well as events management equipment, among others.
Another flagship programme of government in the sector is the Women-in-Maize programme which seeks to empower five thousand women-run maize farming co-operatives over the next five years.

To-date, just over thirteen cooperatives are participating in this programme with a combined 150 hectares of land cultivated. Just above 18 tons of maize was harvested during the first harvest in October 2016.

“This has benefited the participating cooperatives with almost one million rand financial injection and a lot of skills in productivity,” said President Zuma.  He said government procures the vegetables and other foodstuffs from many women’s cooperatives for the school nutrition programme which feeds over nine million children daily.
President Zuma said government has also successfully linked 692 cooperatives to economic opportunities to the value of R91 million.

More than 300 of these cooperatives supplied school uniforms and dignity packs to school children in the past financial year.

More than two hundred cooperatives supplied food to eight provincial food distribution centres and community nutrition and development centres.
Through these linkages, more than three thousand members of cooperatives participated in economic activities that benefited more than twelve thousand members of their households.

“When we talk of radical economic transformation, we want to see practical change in the economic landscape by opening up the space for the ownership and management of the means of production by black people who were excluded deliberately,” said President Zuma

Government departments have been urged to procure goods and services from co-operatives, in order to give them support.

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