Picture: AFP/ MUJAHID SAFODIEN
Picture: AFP/ MUJAHID SAFODIEN

The Zimbabwean government has banned the import of livestock products from SA following an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Limpopo. 

This comes as Botswana, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) and Namibia have also taken similar action in a development that will affect SA’s multi-billion rand meat industry.

Earlier this week, SA’s  department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries labelled the outbreak in Limpopo a crisis as the country had to stop  its exports of cloven-hoofed animals such as cattle, pig and goats.

Zimbabwe’s ministry of land, agriculture, water, climate and rural resettlement said in a statement on Thursday that the decision to ban imports of all live cloven-hoofed animals and their products was inevitable.

“The control of foot and mouth disease involves the implementation of trade restrictions ... ” said the statement.

“In line with the Animal Health Act ... the issuance of permits is a mandatory requirement for the importation of all animal products. Any import application will now be considered on a case-by-case basis depending on the risk.”

In another statement this week, Botswana’s director for veterinary services, Letlhogile Modish, said the movement of hoofed animals and their products from SA had been banned.

“The importation of veld grasses, bedding and animal manure from the contaminated area is also prohibited with immediate effect,” he said.

The highly contagious foot-and-mouth disease was first detected in the Vhembe District of Limpopo. The disease causes lesions and lameness in cattle and sheep. 

The SA  department of agriculture  said in a statement that the affected areas were under quarantine and investigations to verify the results and determine the extent of the outbreak were being conducted.

“We have quickly quarantined the area, so it does not affect the commercial livestock farming which will pose a danger to us as consumers and the export business,” said spokesperson Khaye Nkwanyana.

The World Organisation for Animal Health has officially temporarily suspended SA’s foot-and-mouth-free status until the affected area is cleared of the disease.