Gwanda (Ilanga-New Ziana) – Farmers in Gwanda South and surrounding areas close to the border with Botswana have expressed outrage over the killing of more than 100 of their cattle that had strayed into the neighbouring country recently.
The cattle were slaughtered by Botswana veterinary officials, fearing the animals could bring transmittable diseases.
But Gwanda South farmers and border residents said they were outraged by Botswana’s actions, which have intensified in recent months.
Official statistics indicate that over 100 cattle from Ward 19 in Gwanda near Mlambapeli Border Post have been shot in Botswana during the past three weeks after they strayed into the neighbouring country.
In an interview, Matabeleland South provincial veterinary officer, Dr. Enat Mdlongwa said 112 cattle had been shot over the past three weeks. He said his office was engaging their Botswana counterparts over the issue.
“Despite the professional explanation by veterinary services department, farmers strongly feel that the Botswana government is overreacting. Bi-country engagement is paramount to protect our national herd from being depleted and actually this is cruelty to animals.”
But the farmers said the issue was taking long to be resolved, while they were losing more and more of their animals.
“Botswana must stop this act, this is outrageous,” said a farmer from Mlambapeli.
Another villager from Gwanda Rural, Tsibang Nare echoed similar sentiments.
“This is unacceptable, animals do not think like human beings, hence this is an unfair treatment,” reacted Nare.
Another farmer, who declined to be named, had this to say: “Kudala we would threaten them economically and they would feel the heat manje basenza isigcabha sokudlalela nje”.
In 2016, Botswana introduced a shoot to kill policy for all cattle that stray into the country. A number of Zimbabwean animals have been lost as a result.
Authorities from the neighbouring country pointed out that they had resorted to this policy because the straying of Zimbabwe cattle was affecting their beef exports as the stray animals brought foot and mouth diseases.
Councillor of Ward 19 in Gwanda South, Thompson Makhalima, insisted Botswana was being unfair as many villagers from his ward were losing their cattle.
“Elephants continue to destroy the border fence which creates a way for livestock to stray into Botswana. It’s difficult for people to control their animals under such circumstances. The Botswana officials don’t even notify us after impounding the cattle, we just hear shots as the cattle are being killed and they go on to burn them,” he said.
Farmers have, however, been urged to safeguard their animals and ensure that they always kept track of them.