Towards an analysis of performance in cooperatives: the case of the Nyanza cooperative union.

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University of Dar es Salaam
This study has attempted to suggest some of the problems which, it is believed, affect the way in which cooperatives function in Tanzania. The focus has been on the Nyanza Cooperative Union-an organization which, incidentally, has been the target for various studies of a similar nature. In a way the NCU held a special attraction to students of "Organisations" firstly because of the publicity which many of its problems have received and secondly because it has experienced, probably the greatest government intervention. Moreover, its size before the reorganization places it among the largest cooperative ventures in independent Africa. The departure has been in attributing most of the problems experienced on government intervention which has tended to intensity with time. The effect of government intervention or any other factors, for that matter can be determined by using some specific indicators. These can then give an idea of whether the effect has been positive or negative. In this case the author has used losses in crop finance received by societies annually/ seasonally for cotton purchases as indicative of poor performance. Although many societies, in the zones studied, have recorded annual losses in crop finance, there are differences in magnitude. Societies in Kasamwa show greater losses while those in Magu show less loss. Differences in performance have been explained, though briefly. It has been suggested, for instance that both zones have been subjected to the same degree of government intervention at least in as far as major structural reorganization of the NCU was concerned. Nonetheless there are attain government decisions which have had different effects for the two zones. While the need for government to interview is accepted in principle it is also argued that when intervention becomes excessive it undermines the democratic autonomy of the cooperatives which is supposed to be the cornerstone for their continued existence. For the Nyanza Cooperative Union these measures have ranged from altering its organizational structure to even controlling the style of electing committeemen at primary societies. All these measures meant the societies lost a good deal of their powers to decide on how to reward either the members and / or their committees. No wonder members became increasingly alienated and less interested in the cooperatives while committeemen and officials formed "unholy" alliance to rob surplus accumulated.
Nyanza Co-operative Union, Co-operative societies, Tanzania
Madata, A. M.(1975) Towards an analysis of performance in cooperatives: the case of the Nyanza Cooperative Union, Masters dissertation,University of Dar es Salaam. Available at