DA calls on Motsoaledi to reverse removal of veterinary doctors on critical skills list

Issued by Noko Masipa MP – DA Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development
09 Jul 2023 in News
  • Shortage of 129 Veterinary doctors (Vets) in SA, which accounts for 45% of all funded positions, posing a risk to animal health, food safety, and security.
  • The shortage has persisted for the past 5 years, hindering efforts to maintain the health of livestock amidst disease outbreaks.
  • Minister Motsoaledi urged to reconsider removing Vets from critical skills list. 

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Noko Masipa MP

In a response to a DA parliamentary question, the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, revealed that South Africa currently has a shortage of 129 Veterinary doctors (Vets) – which equates to 45% of all the total funded posts. This is an alarming vacancy rate considering the critical role that Vets play in animal health, food safety and security.

The DA is therefore calling on the Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, to reconsider the decision that his Department took to remove Veterinary doctors from the critical skills list. As things stands, South Africa is unable to fill all vacancies within the sector for Vets despite having fully budgeted for them in every budget cycle, from 2019 to date.

In addition to the widely known problem of qualified Vets emigrating overseas, in her parliamentary reply, Minister Didiza indicated that the persistent vacancy problem in the sector is caused by a constant efflux of state veterinarians who are being recruited by the private sector and challenges to get suitably qualified applicants.

What is more alarming is that this Vet shortage has been a recurring problem over the past 5 years. In fact, as noted by the Minister in her reply, the country has recorded a Vet vacancy rate of 38% over the past 5 years. With South Africa constantly having animal disease outbreaks, such as foot and mouth disease, it is concerning that we are unable to find professionals with the requisite skills set to keep the national stock healthy.

The decision by Home Affairs to remove Veterinary doctors from the critical skills list was ill-thought and should be reversed as a matter of urgency. By placing Vets back on the critical skills list, South Africa will be able to attract qualified foreign professionals to temporarily fill the skills gap while we train our own local talent for this vital function.