In a significant development highlighting the challenges faced by the Zimbabwean government in controlling the spread of serious diseases, the Department of Veterinary Services took action last week by destroying seven cattle that had been unlawfully transported from a quarantined area. These cattle were destined for slaughter at an abattoir located outside the province.
The Tanda area in Makoni North, where four dip tanks are under quarantine for January Disease (JD) and Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), was the source of these cattle. It is important to note that moving livestock in and out of a quarantined zone is strictly prohibited by law.
The interception of a lorry loaded with the seven cattle occurred early on Saturday morning along the Mayo-Chiendambuya Road. The individuals responsible for this illegal act, whose identities remain unknown, were subsequently handed over to the police in Mayo.
Inspector Nobert Muzondo, the Manicaland provincial police spokesperson, was unavailable for comment regarding this incident. However, he had previously announced the deployment of dragnet teams to help address stock theft and uncontrolled animal movements.
The suspects involved in transporting the cattle were reportedly lacking both the required police clearance and a veterinary permit. It is suspected that a syndicate is enticing farmers with foreign currency in exchange for diseased cattle, bypassing the necessary processes.
The destruction and disposal order for the cattle were issued to Dr. Charles Guri, the Provincial Veterinary Officer for Manicaland, by Dr. Josphat Nyika, the Director of the Department of Veterinary Services, on July 10th. The order was issued under the Animal Health Act Chapter 19:01, Sections 7 and 8, empowering the Director of Veterinary Services to dispose of unlawfully imported animals and infectious materials, as well as animals and materials contaminated or infested with disease or pests.
Dr. Guri and his team carried out the destruction of the herd earlier this week. Dr. Guri raised concerns about unscrupulous abattoirs evading health protocols by slaughtering cattle infected with suspected theileriosis and FMD, and subsequently selling the meat, potentially compromising public health.
The prevalence of deadly diseases has resulted in numerous cattle deaths, leading some farmers to sell their infected livestock to butchers. Dr. Guri warned that certain abattoirs have been purchasing diseased animals and introducing the contaminated meat into the food chain, despite prior warnings.
To address the situation, roadblocks have been established at Nyagadze Bridge, Dawara Bridge, Kanyimo, and Nyamaropa Roads. However, perpetrators have resorted to using alternative routes under the cover of darkness to avoid detection.
Dr. Guri emphasized the need for vigilance, stating that any livestock illegally moved from quarantined areas would be destroyed. Authorities have also instructed all butcheries to cease the sale of diseased meat, as it is both illegal and unethical. Furthermore, cattle intended for commercial purposes must undergo slaughter at registered abattoirs where compulsory meat inspections are conducted.
Efforts to contain the spread of diseases and ensure the health and safety of the public and livestock continue to be a top priority for the Department of Veterinary Services.