CABINET yesterday banned the slaughter and sale of cattle from regions affected by disease outbreaks.
This comes amid reports that some unscrupulous individuals were selling diseased cattle to butcheries, who were in turn retailing it to unsuspecting consumers.
Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri told journalists during a post-Cabinet media briefing in Harare that the government had taken note of the reports circulating on social media and has since launched an investigation into the matter.
“We have been hearing reports on social media that some infected cattle were being slaughtered in Mhondoro and sold to butcheries in towns.
“We have two to three inspection workers in every ward and no report has been reported about this, especially in Mhondoro, and that now casts doubt on the authenticity and reliability of the reports.
“Nevertheless we have taken heed of those reports and given that our Veterinary Department is charged with the inspection of meat during slaughter, we have issued an instruction to the effect that no cattle or livestock from disease affected areas should be sold for slaughter. Livestock can be slaughtered from other regions which are free of the disease,” Shiri said.
Cattle disease outbreaks, including anthrax, have been recorded in Gokwe, Nkayi, Gutu, Bikita, Marondera, Chegutu, Makonde and Sanyati.
Shiri added that the Agriculture ministry in partnership with the Health ministry has set up a joint taskforce to inspect meat in all shops to ensure that infected beef was not sold to consumers.
“Whenever slaughter takes place, we have inspectors present and whatever is found to be unsuitable for human consumption is destroyed on the spot.
“Once the meat leaves the abattoirs it becomes the responsibility of the ministry of Health. They are responsible for moving around and inspecting meat in shops.
“After receiving these reports we had a meeting with the ministry of Health and we agreed to set up a joint taskforce which is now inspecting meat in all shops so that we can identify any suspicious activities.
“So far, we have not discovered anything which supports those allegations,” he said.
Shiri appealed to citizens with information on the slaughter of diseased cattle to come forward and assist with investigations.
“We have experienced a number of deaths and there are three causes, namely anthrax, foot-and-mouth and theileriosis. Anthrax is found in the soil and it’s very difficult to identify the disease,” Shiri said.
The minister said the Agriculture ministry had completed initial crop and cattle assessments for the 2019-2020 farming season, which have indicated that the country still needed rain to improve yields.
“The report of the initial assessments will be availed soon, but what I can say is that we still need more rains if we are to improve the harvests that we will get given the number of people who are currently facing starvation in the country,” Shiri said.
Meanwhile, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa indicated that war veterans were set to benefit from the re-allocation of chrome mining claims which were relinquished by ZimAlloys.
“These claims will be re-allocated to other companies which will receive mining claims to sustain and expand ferrochrome production.
“As per government policy, 20 percent of the ceded claims, being 2 348 hectares of the total ceded claims which are a total of 11 747 hectares, will be allocated to war veterans.
“The modus operandi for the distribution of the claims to war veterans will be announced in due course,” Mutsvangwa said.