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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

Lobola negotiations affected as cattle movement banned to stop spread of foot and mouth disease

MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development said the customary payment of lobola using livestock during marriage negotiations was also responsible for spreading the disease to other areas.

The Agriculture Department has banned the movement of cattle for 21 days to curb the spread of foot and mouth disease in the country.

Agriculture Minister, Angela Thokozile Didiza, made the announcement in a statement on Tuesday.

South Africa has so far recorded 116 cases of the disease in six provinces.

Speaking to eNCA, Didiza has labelled recent cases of foot and mouth diseases as the country’s worst outbreak ever.

“Obviously, there are some leaks that we are undertaking that we really think there was a deliberate break of biosecurity. 

“We also are saying the management of the trucks and vehicles they use are cleaned because themselves they can be the spread of the disease.”

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In a statement, the minister said she recognised the disruption that the movement ban would cause in the normal business of many sectors.

“For this reason, the ban is only applicable to cattle, as the movement of cattle was identified as the main cause of the continued spread of the outbreaks.

“However, the public is reminded that all cloven-hoofed animals can spread Foot and Mouth Disease Virus, and the movement of sheep, goats, pigs and cloven-hoofed game animals should also be handled with the necessary caution.”

Didiza acknowledged the efforts made by farmers, communities and industries to curb illegal movements of animals from known positive areas and to improve biosecurity on animal holdings.

The banning of the movement of cattle is also likely to have an impact on cultural activities, like rituals involving cattle and lobola payments.

In March, three districts in KwaZulu-Natal suspended lobola ceremonies for five years following the recent outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

The suspension was declared by the provincial government and other community bodies to limit the spread of the outbreak.

Foot and mouth is a contagious disease that affects domesticated and wild animals and can be fatal to animals and livestock.

MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi, at the time said, “The customary payment of lobola using livestock during marriage negotiations was also responsible for spreading the disease to other areas”.

Meanwhile, Action SA has called on Didiza to urgently reconsider and revoke the ban on the movement of cattle before having implemented a variety of interventions that do not threaten to decimate the livelihoods of the cattle industry.

The party has requested she meet with affected stakeholders and come up with a coherent and sustainable action plan to stop the spread of foot and mouth disease.

“ActionSA is being inundated by complaints and outrage at this latest impulsive reaction by the minister because it threatens to destroy the livelihoods of thousands of farmers and farm workers.”

“There are livestock auctions and breeding stock sales that happen every day in SA that are crucial to the well-being of the red meat industry and equally important to the food security chain for millions of South Africans across the country,” the party said.

Action SA said while it appreciates Didiza’s valid need to control the outbreak, the party believe that there are more sensible alternatives to ban the movement of cattle for 21 days.

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