- As a teacher, Oloo says a saving plan was ideal to enable him to maneuver retirement challenges and to educate his children with ease and comfort.
- In 2022, in a gazette Notice No. 4558, the Commissioner of Cooperatives David Obonyo ordered investigations into widespread complaints from members of the Sacco.
- Before the probe, the Sacco had stopped declaring dividends and had set the withdrawal limit to KSh5000 from salary accounts and was unable to process both short-term and long-term loans.
For Oloo, a retired teacher in Rachuonyo South Sub-County, a teaching career is a humbling venture in molding young minds who are still unaware of what the future holds for them.
Society, according to Oloo, holds teachers in high regard, entrusting them with the responsibility of unearthing learners’ potential and precious talents to withstand life challenges and troubles.
The high calling
The high calling squarely puts teachers in society’s mirror to lead lives of dignity, hope, and self-fulfillment.
“When I got a job with TSC in 1989, the excitement of my parents was unmatched, and they were optimistic their sacrifice had paid off. The appointment excited me, well aware of the calling ahead of me.
I had to turn around my society, provide educational guidance, and make my community better for future generations,” the 69-year-old retired teacher says.
He says in the 33-year-old teaching service, he has seen teachers go through financial hell and never wanted to go through the same.
As a teacher, he says, a saving plan was ideal to enable him to maneuver retirement challenges and to educate his children with ease and comfort.
The now aging man, who appears disturbed and frustrated, talks with finality as he regrets joining a saving scheme.
Primarily, according to him, joining a saving scheme is a robust idea that would mitigate myriad challenges such as age-related illnesses, retirement uncertainties, children’s education, and emergencies.
“My trouble began in September 2011 when a colleague convinced me to join Metropolitan National Sacco.
I did not give it a second thought; I was already focusing on my retirement plan and the education of my two children, who were set to join high school.
Metropolitan National Sacco was welcoming and full of life. It was also declaring lucrative dividends,” says Oloo.
In 2021, Oloo visited Metropolitan National Sacco, Kisumu Branch, to inquire about his savings, which had accrued to KSh 538,300.
This visit was prompted by three years without a declaration of dividends from the Sacco, and concerned members had started talking about it.
Since 2021, according to him, it has been a struggle, desperation, and frustration as he tries to balance life outside work with an unpromising Sacco.
The frail-looking teacher, while revealing his experience with the Sacco, says he has to contend with high blood pressure and stress, which drain him all the monthly pension.
“When I visited the branch’s office in Kisumu, the Human Resource Manager told me the Sacco was unable to refund my savings since it was in financial headwinds.
I was thrown into an ocean of confusion, as I had nothing to support my children’s education, and my retirement was knocking.
Civil servant turned beggar
My ill health began on this day, and I have never known peace ever since, effectively turning into a beggar,” says the teacher.
But Oloo is not alone.
In the neighboring Rachuonyo North Sub-County, I meet Paul Omenda, another retired teacher who joined the Sacco 16 years ago and has nothing to show for it.
With weekly visits to Kendu Adventist Hospital for medical review, he says it never occurred to him that after serving the government to retirement, he would beg from relatives and colleagues to manage his health condition, leave alone seeing his children to school.
“I retired two years ago, and the law requires the Sacco to refund my shares within three months after retirement. It has been back and forth with the Sacco.
Nobody listens to me, and despite saving KSh 389,900 for 16 years, I am now hopeless, sick with frustration, high blood pressure and desperation.
Why should honest public servants save in a scheme, and some individuals conspire to embezzle all the savings?” he asks.
A long list
Both Oloo and Omenda join the list of thousands of teachers who, since 2018, have been trying to cope with a Sacco unable to perform its primary mandate.
In 2022, in a gazette Notice No. 4558, the Commissioner of Cooperatives David Obonyo ordered investigations into widespread complaints from members of the Sacco, who claimed it was struggling financially.
The order came at a time when the effect of Covid-19 was taking a toll on teachers.
Determining the mess
In the order, Obonyo authorized Javel Murira, Director of Cooperative Audit; Kennedy Otachi, Principal Cooperative Officer; David Gitonga, Regulations Manager; and Daniel Mwatu, Senior Compliance Officer, to hold an inquiry within a fortnight.
The probe report, which was released after months of waiting, confirmed the fears of the members, as it unearthed a well-orchestrated network by the management of the Sacco to defraud members of their hard-earned savings.
It was a shock how the Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority (SASRA), a body charged with regulating the operations of Saccos in Kenya, failed to expose the severe plunder of members’ fortunes.
When the government ordered a probe into the Sacco’s activities, SASRA Chief Executive Officer Peter Njuguna said, “We are conducting probe into the financial conduct of the Sacco to understand the business and review a turnaround strategy.”
Even as Obonyo ordered investigations into the financial misgivings of the Sacco, SASRA reports had indicated it had KSh 7.6 billion worth of deposits by November 2020, and Sh. 16.7 billion assets, making it the sixth largest Sacco in Kenya.
A crime scene
Before the probe, the Sacco had stopped declaring dividends and had set the withdrawal limit to KSh5000 from salary accounts and was unable to process both short-term and long-term loans.
The probe report revealed a well-organized plunder structure at the Sacco, putting the Sacco’s CEO Francis Ng’ang’a, together with the management, at the center of the mess, hence recommending a detailed probe on the loss of KSh12 billion.
The report pointed to the cooking of the Sacco’s books to hoodwink members that the Sacco was financially healthy, yet the deposits were raided by the management.
It also unearthed questionable land dealings, declaration of dividends from member deposits and irregular loan disbursements.
“You will be held accountable. You can run but you can’t hide. It is painful when you tighten your belt, deny yourself and someone takes advantage of that to have a luxurious life,” said Delphine Aremo, Director of Cooperatives Nairobi County, about the Sacco’s economic crimes.
Even though the Sacco has since been taken over by a caretaker committee, the Sacco members want refund of shares together with dividends accrued from 2018.
They have accused the caretaker committee of a lukewarm approach in effecting the recommendation of the Obonyo probe team.
The teachers who have since formed a group to champion their rights, dubbed Metro Sacco Affiliates Rights, have notified the Kiambu Police Station of their decision to hold peaceful demonstrations against the Sacco on November 4, 2023.
“We take issue with the caretaker committee for the loud silence and failure to give timely updates on the steps taken to reclaim the loot.
We are asking the government to reprimand these suspects who are enemies of development so that our colleagues don’t die of stress, high blood pressure and frustration.
Other than being Sacco members, we are members of unions. We are watching the silence of Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT), as we match on the streets to fight for what is rightfully ours,” says Kariuki Wanjiru, Organizing Secretary of the Affiliates lobby group.
The caretaker committee has asked members to remain patient since they are up to the task.
Chris Kiriamwere, the CEO of the Sacco, in a circular dated October 27, said they have ensured full access of over 11,000 salaries, over 4,000 pensions and over 7,000 loans and advances disbursed to members.
Peter Njuguna, SASRA CEO, in August this year, while speaking during the SACCO Central annual delegates meeting at Sarova Hotel, directed that Saccos will have 21 working days to investigate and resolve customer complaints as part of new tough rules that prescribe stiff penalties, including revocation of licenses as the regulator acts to enhance services.
Early this year, a section of teachers accusing Metropolitan National Sacco teamed up to sue the Sacco in a court of law.
The teachers, known as “Ebony Group” reached out to a lawyer who offered to pursue the matter in court.
Oldly by registration
Metropolitan National Sacco, according to SASRA, was registered on February 10, 1977, as Kiambu Teachers Sacco and continued to operate as such until 2009, when its request to change its name to Metropolitan National Sacco was certified.
With a membership way above 75,000, drawn from both TSC and civil service, it spread its branches to enhance efficiency in operations.
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Hitherto, even as the affiliate lobby group holds demonstrations against a Sacco that they so dearly cherished, it is expected the caretaker committee will emerge and communicate to them on what the lobby group says “are pressing issues.”