For the first time people in Zone 11 are facing a Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) scare, with such outbreaks having been mostly restricted to the northwest and north eastern parts of the country. A straying buffalo – a carrier of FMD virus – killed near Kanye in the Southern district has changed all that.
However by late Friday afternoon there was confusion over whether there has been relaxation on movement of animals after a statement supposedly released by the Veterinary Services said people in the area were allowed to slaughter livestock for social activities. The Ministry of Agriculture Public Relations Officer, Geoffrey Pheko, however rebutted such claims. “It is not true that we have changed the conditions of the ban, we distance ourselves from that statement,” Pheko said on the phone. He added with a terse statement: “The Ministry of Agriculture wishes to remind members of the public that movement protocol restrictions imposed on April 12, 2016 in Zone 11 remain in force. Therefore, the Ministry refutes media allegations that the restrictions have been relaxed. The public is requested to remain calm as any new developments will be communicated to them”.
The Veterinary statement had said among others that the slaughter of livestock for local consumption in social occasions such as weddings and funerals is allowed, movement of fresh milk for pasteurisation under supervision of dairy officers is allowed, cooked meats, processed meats and matured deboned beef are allowed into, out of and within Zone, while other restrictions remain in force. Earlier during the day, The Patriot on Sunday has took a trip around the city and some surrounding villages to find out how butchery owners were responding to the ban effected by the ministry. Even though meat was till found in the refrigerators, operators said they feared for the worst once their stockpiles run out.
Meat prices go up
Some of the owners said they have since decided to hike prices of meat products as they have stopped slaughtering cattle and are now buying in large quantities from bulk suppliers. As a result, the butcheries said they are passing the price to the consumers. “We sell mostly to street vendors, but the ban has had a serious effect as there are not buying as before as we have increased meat price,” said Sarana Smachana, a butchery operator in Mogoditshane.