Zimbabwe owes Botswana US$800 000

Source: Zimbabwe owes Botswana US$800 000 | The Financial Gazette May 18, 2017

ZIMBABWE owes Botswana US$800 000 for vaccines supplied by its neighbour to help control the outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) two years ago.
While Gaborone had previously provided Harare with FMD vaccines for free, there was a consignment worth US$800 000 which had to be paid for.

Because of the prevailing cash crisis, Zimbabwe has been unable to pay for the consignment.
This was revealed by Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Deputy Minister Paddy Zhanda.
“The first round of vaccinations should have been done last month, but there is no money and we also owe Bostwana US$800 000 for vaccines provided two years ago,” he said.
Zimbabwe is yet to begin its vaccination programme for FMD, with lack of funding emerging as the biggest hindrance.

Botswana insists that much of the cattle diseases in its north-eastern districts emanate from Zimbabwe. As such, most cattle in the Shashe area, along the Zimbabwe-Botswana border, have been shot on sight once they stray into Botswana. The shoot-to-kill policy was introduced in March last year.
Botswana had given Zimbabwe a three-month grace period within which authorities were supposed to ensure that cattle owners strictly control the movement of their animals along the shared border, but their calls have fallen on deaf ears.

“We moved around warning and explaining to farmers on the need to monitor the movements of their cattle, but our people do not want to take heed. They let their cattle stray into Botswana and hence the Botswana authorities have no option, but to shoot the stray animals. Their aim is to protect their beef exports to the European Union (EU). A stakeholders’ meeting was conducted, but our people just do not want to listen,” Zhanda said.

Access to European markets for Botswana is subject to stringent conditions that entail high levels of health of its animals.

Botswana has, therefore, invested a lot of money in fighting FMD outbreaks.
Last year alone, over 200 cattle that had strayed into Botswana were said to have been shot and burnt.
This year alone, 68 animals were shot after cattle rustlers drove them from the Bulilima district into Botswana.

Former Cold Storage Commission chief executive, Eddie Cross, said the shoot-to-kill policy has always been standard practice for Botswana as it sought to protect its beef quota to the EU.
Despite laws requiring the acquisition of veterinary service permits for people wishing to move livestock from one place to another in Zimbabwe, the lack of effective monitoring and alleged bribe-taking by officials has led to the unchecked movement of livestock.

This has resulted in the failure to control FMD locally, forcing the EU to terminate supplies from the country.

“Given the state of the cattle industry in Zimbabwe, and the collapse of all controls and fencing, there is no chance of Zimbabwe getting back into the EU market. Cattle in Zimbabwe contract FMD and simply get a temperature and go off their food for a few days. However, when it gets into European herds, it kills the animal. Up to a million cattle have died in previous outbreaks, many linked to African or South American imports. We have completely lost the fight to control the disease here,” Cross said.
FMD, transmitted by buffalo, has been problematic in Zimbabwe since 1931.

Between 1931 and 2002, there were a further 85 outbreaks and since then there has been a massive escalation of disease outbreaks in Zimbabwe.

Before 2000, the high disease control costs were regarded as justifiable to protect the valuable beef export markets. The resultant control measures targeted both wildlife and cattle.
But, the chaos and disorder brought by the 2000 land reform changed all that.
Poaching, veld fires and cattle rustling proliferated on the ranches, worsening FMD outbreaks in Zimbabwe.

Movement of people and cattle from communal to commercial areas was so uncontrolled that people and their animals relocated inside buffalo-inhabited conservancies, while kilometres of veterinary fencing disappeared from the commercial farming areas.

To raise money to fight the FMD outbreaks, government is crafting a Statutory Instrument to compel abattoirs to pay US$10 towards a FMD vaccination fund.

“Previously, I had asked them (abbatoirs) to pay US$5 per animal, but they refused so as government we decided to go the legislative route so that money for FMD vaccines is always available,” Zhanda said.