The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the decision by a group of at least 50 emerging farmers to take legal action to force Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza to lift the nationwide ban on livestock gathering and auctions implemented last year. The court application to lift a ban on livestock auctions will be heard in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on 14 January 2020.
This ban was initially implemented in order to stop the spread of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). The emerging farmers will be requesting the Minister to lift the ban on auctions in eight out of nine provinces in country in which there have been not reported cases of Foot and Mouth Disease – citing that the initial decision was irrational. The DA has consistently called on Minister Didiza to lift this moratorium on non-affected areas and deal decisively with FMD outbreak as per the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) guidelines.
It is unfortunate that amid a national drought, farmers are now being forced to go to court to ensure they can conduct ordinary business of trading livestock. Moreover, it is regrettable that Minister Didiza is not following the clear World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) guidelines on what exactly needs to be done with any outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease.
To date the department failed to:
- Disinfect all affected farms and vehicles in the affected regions;
- Create visible policing that monitor all movements livestock carrying vehicles in the province to enforce quarantine;
- Allocate a budget to fight the disease outbreak;
- Conduct routine inoculation, post the Vhembe District disease outbreak because of the lack of vaccines and similar strains are found in the region; and
- Inform police authorities to take all steps to protect the spreading of the disease.
The severity of this outbreak cannot be downplayed as the last outbreak of FMD in January 2019 resulted in a brief ban on South African wool and meat exports which cost the economy in excess of R10 billion.
We again call on the Minister to take immediate action before it is too late.