OBP and Minister, end your disastrous tenure and provide farmers with crucial vaccines

Issued by Noko Masipa MP – DA Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development
14 Dec 2023 in News

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

The DA has been inundated with requests from the horse farming communities who are in a dire situation due to the lack of vaccines against African horse sickness. Despite the promises made to us in Gauteng at our last meeting with the acting CEO and his executive leadership team of Onderstepoort Biological Products (OBP), horse farmers have still not received the vaccines they so desperately need. This situation has left both horse owners and veterinarians in the dark about the reasons for this shortage.

The DA now urges the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Minister Thoko Didiza, to take decisive action. We implore her to seek help from the private sector to address the ongoing shortage of African horse sickness vaccines.

South African horse farmers should not be forced to resort to protests to draw attention to the inadequate support from the government. The petition to outsource some of the areas OBP is struggling with to the private sector has received over 11 000 signatures nationwide. This petition was submitted to Parliament. However, the Minister has not commented on this petition, nor has she sought to explain to the Committee the reasons why she does not support the call for private sector involvement in OBP production of African horse sickness vaccines.

We have considered steps to address this crisis. The DA will be writing to Minister Thoko Didiza, Mr. Ramasodi (Director General), and the Chairman of the OBP Board to demand an explanation for the bottlenecks that have led to the delay in vaccine distribution. We strongly believe that it is unacceptable for the government to maintain a monopoly on the production of these vaccines, especially when it is causing our farmers to suffer unnecessarily.

Furthermore, we will write to the Chairman of the Portfolio requesting that the Board and Managing Director of OBP appear before the Committee to provide a comprehensive report on the progress made in addressing the vaccine shortage and promises that were made to the portfolio about efforts in fixing the vaccine production at OBP.

The DA remains committed to the welfare of animals, including horses, and urges the relevant authorities to act swiftly to remedy this situation. We believe that collaboration between the government and the private sector is key to solving this urgent problem.

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