Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Hundreds of societies face closure

The Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs is on the verge of halting the operations of more than 3 000 societies for defying an act calling for them to submit their annual returns and financial audits to the Registrar of Societies.

Out of 5 601 registered burial societies, sporting clubs, religious organisations and other community associations across the country, only 1 681 have complied with the Societies Act by submitting their audits and returns to the ministry.

The Public Relations Officer in the Ministry, Osesenaqa Lekgoko, said it is difficult to confirm that the non complying Societies conform to the constitution and other laws in the country without the scrutiny of their returns.

She added that they cannot trace their sources of funds to counter against the possibility of some of them having donors from notorious bodies and countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Botswana.

The ministry is, therefore, considering shutting down the societies by September this year after they failed to respond to several letters reminding them to process their returns. Citing the reasons for their closure, the ministry labeled them to be ungovernable and ignorant of the law.

Lekgoko expressed concern that many societies across different boards are not adhering to provisions of their constitutions and mismanage issues of their associations, something which brings the possibility of conflicts.

In the past, churches were considered to be the most conflict-ridden compared to other societies.

Submission of annual returns ensures stability in societies and that they meet their intended objectives.

Meanwhile, the non functional structures and failure to hold annual general meetings by some societies contribute to failure to submit returns.

The Ministry has, however, started holding workshops to address some of these challenges, some of which were held with churches last year in Mahalapye, Francistown and Kanye.

The workshops have yielded positive results in that submission of returns by churches jumped from around 30 percent last year to over 70 percent this year. Plans are underway to roll out these workshops to other societies.

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