BOTSWANA border control police units have shot and killed at least 405 Zimbabwean cattle after they strayed across the border into their country, which is implementing a “shoot-to-kill policy”, the Zimbabwean government has claimed.
This comes amid reports that Zimbabwean cows, were also crossing it South Africa for greener pastures.
In May, the government of Botswana notified Zimbabwe that as from September 1, all cattle which strayed across the border would be shot and the carcasses burnt to prevent the potential spread of livestock diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease(FMD), which has been raging uncontrolled for years in three provinces of southern Zimbabwe.
According to local media reports, figures from the Ministry of Agriculture’s Department of Livestock Production and Development (DLPD), 396 cattle from the Beitbridge district have been shot, killed and incinerated by the authorities in Botswana.
At least 11 more cattle, from the Plumtree district, have also been shot and disposed of in line with Botswana’s tough new stance on cross-border livestock incursions.
Figures for Zimbabwe districts of Gwanda and Matobo, which also share the border with Botswana, were still being reconciled with incident reports received from Gaborone.
Matabeleland South provincial livestock specialist Simangaliphi Ngwabi said Zimbabwe farmers whose cattle were shot in Botswana should not complain.
Instead, she said they should blame themselves because they were told to tighten controls over the movement of their herds three months before Botswana implemented the “shoot-to-kill policy”.
“Botswana informed us that they would shoot cattle that strayed into their border and Deputy (Agriculture) Minister Paddy Zhanda went on a campaign sensitising farmers in all border areas to desist from letting their animals stray into the neighbouring country,” Ngwabi said.
“We can’t blame Botswana for shooting the cattle because they issued a warning three months before they started the shooting.
“They can’t risk losing their EU export licence because our farmers have let their cattle cross into their borders. Their economy is largely driven by trading in beef, business is business and as such, we shouldn’t contribute to them losing their EU quota.
“Therefore, we advise our farmers to adhere to proper livestock management which entails checking the movement of their animals from time to time.”
Botswana’s decision to shoot cross-border stray cattle followed the last outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in March, which hit the South-Eastern District, the main cattle source zone for Botswana’s lucrative meat export quota to the European Union (EU). – ANA
The outbreak was traced to Zimbabwe, where FMD has been raging uncontrolled for years in the Matabeleland South, Matabeleland North and Masvingo provinces.
The Zimbabwean government, which has no money to acquire basic livestock vaccines, has responded to the frequent disease outbreaks by imposing quarantines against the movement of livestock in and out of affected districts.
Most of the country’s provincial agricultural shows for 2015 and 2016 were held without live exhibitions or sales of cattle and other hoven-hoofed livestock due to the quarantines still in place against inter-provincial livestock movements. –ANA