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Cooperative milks members dry

Mojabeng Moalosi

Letlotlo La Basotho Industrial Co-operative Management has no transparency in its finances, members told Newsday.

Some of the cooperative members who spoke to Newsday on condition of anonymity said they suspected foul play and corruption.

“We suspect the management has used our monies for their own benefit,” one source said.

“We were told during a meeting that we are not going to get the dividends as promised from the onset. We are now told there are no profits. We have invested a lot of money here, hoping to get something in return now all we are getting are stories,” the source said.

“At the meeting that was held on April 3, we were told that the management of the co-operative cannot account for the amount of M192 000. They tell us that they don’t know what happened to the money, can you imagine, a whole management team saying they don’t know how the money was spent, something is not right,” charged the source.

Another member added, “We choose them because we trusted them to do the right thing. We are very disillusioned.”

An unauthorised officer from the Minister of Small Businesses, Co-operatives and Marketing told Newsday that the government was not aware of the meeting held by Letlotlo La Basotho.

The officer stated that the ministry sent through an inspection team to inspect and look into the operations of the co-operative which had been in operation for 4 years, but the team returned without financial reports.

They told this paper they suspected back-stabbing by members of Letlotlo la Basotho when they first intervened.

“We don’t even know that there was a meeting held last weekend. There is a big problem regarding how a co-operative operates,” she said.

The officer added, “There is no transparency in their finances. We had to send some people for inspection. We have also realised that they don’t hire professionals to do the work. They appointed some of their members. For instance, the Accountant position cannot just be filled by anyone, but they have engaged an unqualified person.

The officer directed this reporter to the Cooperative Development Officer Palo Mohapi for further clarity.

“He was one of the people appointed to inspect the Letlotlo la Basotho operations, he can help you.”

Mohapi, who the paper was directed to, said that Letlotlo la Basotho was inspected a few months ago.

“…but they refused to give us their financial records saying that they will get back to us. To this day we have not heard from them,” he said.

In an interview with Newsday, Mohapi was not aware of the meeting held at Lehakoe on April 6 2019 where Letlotlo La Basotho presented their financial reports to the members.

“I was one of the people who were appointed to go for inspection at Letloltlo la Basotho Co-operative. They refused to give us their financial records, saying they needed to prepare them before they can hand them over to us.  It is surprising if they have presented the records to their members before they can come to us.

“We even received complaints from other members who work at their offices saying that the Public Relations Officer Pheello Majola when speaking to one of the local radio stations on Thursdays, gave listeners the office phone number to call, yet everything he said was not discussed with them, so when they get calls they have no responses to the callers. They said they don’t even know what Majola talked about,” Mohapi told Newsday.

He stated that the co-operative had their Annual General Meeting (AGM) with Letlotlo La Basotho on April 16 2019. But, still the Letlotlo did not bring their financial records, promising to bring them the following day.

Pheello Majola, the co-operative spokesperson told Newsday that people cannot invest then sit back and do nothing to nurture their investment.

“Letlotlo La Basotho did not make any profits because the investors are not buying their products. They even made recommendations on the meeting that was held on April 6 that every member should make sure that they buy their products that cost at least M100.00 per month.

“The investors did not get the dividends because there were no profits. We have so many competitors,” Majola said.

He added, “Another problem is getting factory shells. Our products are only sold here in Maseru.”

Majola noted that members came to the meeting with high expectations hence a shock that there were no profits.

“They were shocked by the fact that there are no profits, but the question remains, how will the cooperative have money yet they don’t buy their products?” 

“Letlotlo la Basotho co-corporative began in August 2016 as an idea.  

There are 2000 members. The public was invited to invest with M1000 and M1200. One person can buy up to 10 shares. The goal of the Co-operative was to have Basotho buy locally made goods and manufacture as many products as possible starting with cleaning detergents and cosmetics.” He stated.

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