PCCB Director General Brig Gen John Mbungo has not addressed those complaints specifically, though he acknowledged them, noting that the complaints the agency receives include those relating to the dubious conditions under which loans are issued to farmers.
The all-important question may be whether it is all a matter of corruption or of bureaucracy. What the PCCB chief underlines is that he and the officers under his command work on such complaints to ensure the maintenance of public safety, the safe keeping of monies and properties being part of it.
That said, there is definitely an over-arching problem here, as on the one hand it may relate to ill-intentioned individuals putting others to suffering and on the other hand it has to do with conditions of doing business – namely, client inability to pay loans within a given timeframe. Tied to this aspect are terms of such loans, if they were mutually agreed upon, and signed.
There is something in land policies about how plots, farms or houses change hands – by the formula of ‘willing buyer, willing seller,’ where the onus is that nothing is imposed in such a transaction.
In the final analysis, the furnishing of such evidence is sufficient to remove the doubts on willingness and what remains is whether the terms so laid out were in conformity with the relevant pieces of legislation.
Here the issue isn’t bank indicative interest rates but the substance of contracts and the rules governing such transactions, for instance whether the loan entity is registered.
The reason for this querying is that we are often our own worst enemies and when we have rattled everything we start looking for scapegoats, and none is worse than a money lender.
Yet, at the point of seeking out the loan, the borrower was intimating that the lender is some sort of saviour, scanned or read the terms stated and accepted, signed on the dotted line and took the money. Failing to pay thus implies that some sort of collateral is then acquired, whether it is a car, a house or a plot.
In the circumstances, upwards of 100 complaints daily on loan sharking can’t all be serious ones and in many cases they are failing small businesses.
It could well be that someone was simply trying to avoid paying a debt, so long as there is a legal caveat for the same. It is also to shout that the interest rate was too high and thus he failed to pay, unless the loan terms are illegitimate.
When it comes to debts involving farmers’ money, often organs such as cooperative societies have a legal monopoly in what they are doing – as well as specific channels through which their accounts and the meeting of their liabilities are handled.
Basically, the organs report to district authorities, and then there is inspection by the Controller and Auditor General, the National Assembly and the Prime Minister’s Office, or even the President’s Office (PO-RALG).
Unless there are issues like bribes in the said debts, it is not easy to see exactly the stakeholders concerned should feel compelled to seek PCCB’s intervention on claims for their payments.