Some butcheries in Mutare and Odzi are reportedly selling meat from cattle infected with suspected theileriosis, a tick-borne disease also known as January disease.
The Manica Post has established that villagers are selling their diseased cattle to butcheries at very low prices to avoid losing their beasts for nothing.
One of the affected villagers, Shupikai Mvurumutiya, revealed that farmers are selling their sick cattle for a maximum of US$50, while under normal circumstances, a bull is sold for US$300. Said the villager:
We have recorded unprecedented cattle deaths in our village over the last two weeks, and this weekend alone we recorded 20 deaths. The prospect of having the entire herd wiped out by the disease is scary.
As a result, butcheries from Odzi and Mutare have deployed runners in the village to buy and slaughter all the sick cattle for sale.
If they pay you US$50 for one beast, you can consider yourself lucky. It is an opportunity for them to make money and the farmers have no other option but to sell all the sick cattle. We can’t just watch them die.
The reported cattle sales and slaughter are being done without the mandatory permits from veterinary authorities and clearance from the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
Manicaland Provincial Veterinary Officer, Charles Guri, said it is illegal to sell meat that has not been examined and certified. Said Guri:
The slaughtering of sick cattle for commercial purposes is illegal. Such meat should not be sold to the public.
We have deployed our officers together with the police in the Mapembe area to get to the bottom of this scandal.
It has come to our attention that certain butcheries had deployed some runners in the affected villages to convince farmers to sell all their sick cattle for a song.
The cattle are being slaughtered without the required permits and clearance from the police, meaning they are breaking the law and must be brought to book.
Acting Manicaland provincial police spokesperson, Assistant Inspector Wiseman Chinyoka said police were investigating the reports.