By Richard Muponde
BOTSWANA has reportedly put a moratorium on the shooting of Zimbabwean cattle which stray into the neighbouring country despite fears of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD)
Zimbabwe’s neighbour, which is a major supplier of beef to the European Union and is ever wary of an outbreak that could jeopardise those exports, had a shoot-to-kill policy on cattle that stray into their country, a classified FMD red zone.
However, an outcry by villagers living along the border areas such as Gwanda and Plumtree, who are the most affected, reportedly forced officials to engage Botswana authorities on how to effectively deal with the problem.
Reports emanating from these areas say there has been a decrease in the shooting of cattle which cross into Botswana, as the neighbouring country’s veterinary officials were reportedly quarantining them before being released to their owners.
Botswana has reportedly shot and incinerated about 700 cattle which strayed from Gwanda and Bulilima West district.
Over 100 cattle were shot in ward 19 in Gwanda South near Mhlambapheli Border Post in October last year, while over 600 were killed in Bulilima West constituency over the past three years.
However, the situation appears to have improved as it was reported to be quiet with no reports of the shooting.
Matabeleland South provincial veterinary officer Enat Mdlongwa confirmed that no reports of shootings had been received so far.
“It’s quiet these days,” said Mdlongwa.
His sentiments were echoed by Information, Communication Technology and Courier Services deputy minister and Bulilima West legislator, Dingimuzi Phuti.
“It’s better these days. It appears there’s a moratorium on the shooting of our cattle in the neighbouring country,” said Phuti.
“I haven’t received any complaints from my constituency which is one of the most affected and has lost a number of cattle due to the shootings.”
Last year villagers from Nswazwi, Mangubo and Hinkwe in Plumtree said they were losing their source of livelihood and appealed to Phuti to lobby for a fence along the border to save their herds.
The same year, Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri also despatched a team from Matabeleland South to visit affected areas and find a solution to the problem.
Bulilima, in Matabeleland South, together with Masvingo and some parts of the Midlands are currently under quarantine to contain FMD outbreaks.