THE UPND has condemned the government’s slaughter of over 70 cows, sheep and goats belonging a Pemba farmer who was caught transporting them in the wake of a livestock movement ban in Southern Province due to a Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak.
Keme Syantumbe lost 32 cows, 28 sheep and 11 goats, estimated about K138,000 in value, as he attempted to transfer them from Macha to Mumbwa.
The livestock was slaughtered and is due for auction.
A distraught Syantumbe collapsed as the animals were being culled.
UPND chairperson for agriculture, food and water Levy Ngoma said the government’s action was not only cruel and heartless, but also underscored PF’s ignorance on managing the complex field of agriculture which had collapsed in Zambia.
“Following this inhumane act, we demand that the PF government compensates the affected farmer for destroying his livelihood,” he said.
Ngoma said while the UPND did not condone lawless activities by citizens, the party appreciated the seriousness with which livestock owners must adhere to regulations that govern stock movement in the period of a disease outbreak.
“However, we believe that the indiscriminate mass slaughter of so many animals belonging to one individual is excessive, inhuman and uncalled for,” Ngoma said.
He said the animal health Act 2010 provided alternatives which included quarantine and other penalties to the owner of animals suspected to be carriers of the outlined diseases.
“In view of the foregoing, the UPND believes government should have used discretion in exploring already available means of lawful sanctions, provided for by the above Act, without exposing and condemning this farmer to the punishment that will lead him and his family to perpetual poverty and misery,” Ngoma said
He said if the PF was a serious government that genuinely cared for Zambian livestock farmers, FMD would not have broken out in the first place.
Ngoma said the government should have undertaken a massive vaccination campaign around the country, after an infected herd of buffalo that had been gifted to a foreign Head of State (eSwatini) was rejected by that country and shipped back to Zambia.
“eSwatini is thousands of miles from Zambia, and yet the infected donated buffaloes were not slaughtered in eSwatini but sent back to its country of origin – Zambia. That was a humane and a reasonable act,” he said.
He said instead of slaughtering the infected buffaloes to avert an outbreak in Zambia, the PF gave them to a political surrogate who in turn introduced them to local livestock in the Chisamba farming block, subsequently infecting the domesticated animals there and the rest of the country.
“We know that the individual in question is a Politically Exposed Person (PEP) and a close friend to a senior government official,” he said. “That is why his buffaloes and cattle were spared and yet Mr Syantumbe’s animals were killed simply because he is a common farmer without political connections to senior government officials. This is discriminatory and unwarranted and must be condemned.”
Ngoma further said Zambians were already overburdened with the yoke of excessive taxes and theft of public resources by “this heartless government.”
“Let them therefore be humane and spare the people from further hardships by taking away even the little that is remaining in their hands,” he said.
Ngoma said when the UPND forms government, it will ensure that agriculture is prioritised and would further provide for safeguards that would curb animal diseases by undertaking an ambitious and sustainable campaign of animal disease control programmes through vaccinations and dipping of all livestock around the country.
“In order to avert and suppress any deadly livestock disease therefrom, UPND in government shall invest more into research and development so that our country can produce vaccines at affordable prices for farmers to buy to vaccinate their livestock to prevent large-scale outbreaks of diseases like FMD,” said Ngoma.