It seems that plans for a dedicated development agency for co-operatives are going to be scrapped, pending a legislative amendment, in favour of creating a mega-agency for SMEs and co-operatives. This is a mistake that will all but guarantee failure for co-operatives. In this post published first on my LinkedIn, I explain why.

The unique identity of co-operatives mean that generic enterprise development programmes just won't do. (Image: International Co-operative Alliance)

Recent proceedings in Parliament make clear that South Africa is unlikely to establish a dedicated national Co-operative Development Agency (CDA), proposed initially in 2011 in response to reports of high failure rates among co-operatives. The people in the Department of Trade and Industry who’d proposed creating the CDA had consulted widely and done an impressive amount of due diligence to make a case for a standalone agency dedicated to co-operatives, owing to the unique nature of our self-help enterprises.

But now it seems the CDA will be relegated to being a division in a new SME and co-operative development mega-agency…


With no money left to burn, the South African government’s throwing poor and working-class black people into the fire to keep the economy chugging along.

Cooperative governance minister Dlamini-Zuma lays out the government's balancing act of lives and livelihoods.

Watching the superb-but-harrowing Snowpiercer series during the CoViD-19 pandemic and #BlackLivesMatter protests has been edifying. The series goes further than the movie in detailing the intricacies of the capitalist hierarchy aboard the iron ark: following a man-made global environmental catastrophe, poor people at the back of the 1,001-car great train holding the last of humanity in a world frozen are kept alive (barely) for their labour, which allows fare-paying elites at the front to enjoy the creature comforts to which they’re accustomed, much like it was pre-apocalypse. …


Lockdown orders did not create the growing humanitarian crisis; they revealed its extent and the inadequacy of the pre-existing and newly expanded social safety net

People await food parcels in Olievenhoutbosch, a township in the City of Tshwane metropolitan municipality, home to South Africa’s capital (Image: Rorisang Kgosana)

The historian Howard Phillips observed that there arose “reformist zeal” in the Union of South Africa in the immediate aftermath of the 1918 Spanish Flu — which killed over 300 000 people in the country and threw into sharp relief the virtual non-existence of the white supremacist regime’s welfare system: orphaned children of all races had nowhere to go and families were left destitute after the death of the sole income earner. …


This is text and visuals from my talk at the TEDxJohannesburg salon on social enterprise. The video will be out in December and, obviously, there will probably be differences between the text and the delivered version. Art direction by Pola Maneli.

I am going to ask a few difficult questions about the social enterprise model and of us here who consider ourselves social entrepreneurs. Just questions; no answers. The answers you must find yourselves.

But, before I do that, I need to tell you a story.

Now, I am getting older and slowly, despite my best efforts not to, am…


Logo of the Dutch East India Company, the charter company that initiated in earnest European conquest of south Africa

HuffPost South Africa has done a series on black tax — the monthly remittances black South Africans send to family members who are not part of their immediate household. Predictably, because I doubt the grasp of the publication’s leadership of the country’s political, social and economic history and context, the series misses the mark.

The whole thing seems to be part of a media partnership with the Savings Institute of South Africa (SASI), a state-financed non-profit cited in the series. Every July or so, SASI runs a campaign — dubbed “national savings month” — to encourage South Africans to save…

T.O. Molefe

Editor, writer, CA(SA), social policy nerd

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