Minister should revoke impulsive ban on cattle movement – ActionSA

Stakeholders must come up with a coherent and sustainable action plan to rid SA of foot and mouth disease

Minister Didiza should revoke impulsive ban on cattle movement

17 August 2022

ActionSA calls upon the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, to urgently reconsider and revoke this illogical knee-jerk “decree” to ban the movement of cattle before having implemented a variety of interventions that do not threaten to decimate the livelihoods of the cattle industry.

We further request that she call all the affected stakeholders together to come up with a coherent and sustainable action plan to scientifically rid ourselves of this destructive but controllable disease. 

ActionSA is being inundated by complaints and outrage at this latest impulsive reaction by the Minister because it threatens to destroy the livelihoods of thousands of farmers and farm workers. There are livestock auctions and breeding stock sales that happen every day in SA that are crucial to the well-being of the red meat industry and equally important to the food security chain for millions of South Africans across the country.

While we appreciate the Minister’s valid need to control the outbreak, we believe that there are more sensible alternatives to this ban. We also find the exemption of the movement of cattle for ritual slaughter arbitrary and therefore irrational. If the Minister believes that movement should be banned, then all movement should be banned.

Foot and mouth disease is a notifiable livestock disease that is best controlled by quarantining infected livestock accompanied by the commensurate veterinary interventions required to prevent the spread of the disease. This perforce requires all State veterinary and Agricultural extension services to collaborate in isolating and controlling the spread of the disease.

The reason why this disease is not being effectively controlled and contained is that these State services have for all intents and purposes all but collapsed, so effective quarantining, control and eradication by euthanasia if necessary, of infected herds is not taking place.

This blanket ban on all movement of cattle in SA is like the ANC’s ham-fisted response to the COVID 19 pandemic where they closed down the economy of this country and destroyed millions of livelihoods and jobs without proper consideration of other available options to control the virus.

It is clear from this ill-informed decision that the Minister and the ANC government have no other ideas on how to contain this cloven-hoofed animal disease, which has also for the past year also seriously compromised the country’s natural fibre industry because one of our biggest consumer markets, China has banned all wool and mohair imports from SA.

This situation calls for Action and ActionSA believes that an infinitely more sensible and scientific method of controlling this disease and protecting our agricultural biosecurity is for the Department of Agriculture to set up an emergency disaster management team in collaboration with all Agricultural Unions, farmers’ associations, all red meat producer organisations and private veterinary practitioners in affected areas to manage this outbreak and bring it under control scientifically and sensibly.

The proposed blanket ban on all livestock movement from one farm to another or anywhere else is tantamount to the self-destruction of one of our most important agricultural sectors that are the backbone of the rural hinterland of this country and could have similar consequences to those that unfolded after the prophetess, Nongqawuse’s vision that led to devastation and famine resulting from the voluntary slaughter of the Xhosa peoples’ cattle in 1856-1857. 

Issued by Atholl Trollip, Eastern Cape Provincial Chairperson, ActionSA, 17 August 2022