Kiyapili Sibanda Bulawayo Bureau—
Government and the police have expressed reservations on the opening of a donkey abattoir in Umguza, amid fears that the meat might be sold locally. A local company, Battlefront Investments is building a $150 000 donkey abattoir, the first in the country that will have the capacity to dress more than 70 animals a day. Recently, the company’s managing director Mr Gareth Lumsden said their abattoir was set to be completed by end of this month.
He said they had since started buying donkeys for slaughter. Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Deputy Minister responsible for Livestock, Cde Paddy Zhanda said on Wednesday that eating donkey meat was taboo in Zimbabwe and from a Government point of view, they wanted assurance that the donkey meat would not find its way into the local market.
He said this during a visit to the abattoir with a delegation that included ministry officials and members of the Police Anti-Stock Theft Unit. “There is a lobby group that is totally against this abattoir and Government’s position is that donkey meat cannot be consumed in Zimbabwe,” said Cde Zhanda.
“We, therefore, want assurance that this donkey meat will not find its way into local butcheries.” Cde Zhanda said members of the public wanted Government to protect them from the risk of consuming donkey meat without their knowledge.
“We, therefore, have an obligation to put measures in place to ensure donkey meat is not sold in local butcheries,” he said. The national co-coordinator of the police anti-stock stock theft, Senior Assistant Commissioner Erasmus Makodza, said many farmers had raised concern after learning of the planned opening of the donkey abattoir.
He said the farmers feel that their donkeys would be stolen. “We are generally on our ordinary awareness campaigns and we deal with livestock farmers,” he said. ‘Farmers are now worried that there will be an upsurge in thefts of donkeys.”
Snr Asst Comm Makodza said there was also concern that some meat would find its way onto the local market. A representative of the company said they were eyeing a ready market in China and no donkey meat would find its way into the local market. The visit by Cde Zhanda to the abattoir came a week after animal conservationists criticised the planned slaughter of donkeys for commercial purposes.
The conservationists made the remarks in a joint statement by Aware Trust Zimbabwe, Veterinarians for Animal Welfare Zimbabwe, Lupane Youth for Development Trust, the Zimbabwe National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Spana.
The conservationists said when housed in inhabitable conditions, donkeys suffered from a stress-induced condition called hyper-lipemia, which can kill them.