Operation to stamp out uninspected meat stepped up
Precious Manomano-Herald Reporter
Authorities are intensifying Operation Nyama Yabvepi to ensure no sick animals are accepted for slaughter and no uninspected meat is put on sale, with curbing cattle rustling being an important element.
The new operation started on Monday and it will run for two weeks. Nyama Yabvepi first launched on 21 December last year with the aim to deal with rising stock theft, and to ensure that only meat that had been inspected and certified conditionally fit for human consumption was put on the market.
The programme help to curb stock theft, which is largely driven by the markets supplied by restaurants and butcheries who connive with the thieves or skip the required checks.
Officials from the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, plus the police, Ministry of Health and Child Care and local authorities, among others are coordinating and upgrading the operation.
Authorities had noted with concern recent reports on social media of unscrupulous operators in the beef value chain. Cattle rustling has in recent times become a major cause for concern with cases increasing.
A team of veterinary public health officers will be carrying out extensive investigations to verify the authenticity of that meat in all butcheries, ensuring that it has come through legal channels and is fit for human consumption.
Acting deputy director of veterinary field services Dr Reverend Spargo said the Vet Department had an obligation to curb livestock rustling and protect public health and the new operation will help to curb all unnecessary practices. ‘‘Riding on the successes of the blitz “Nyama Yabvepi” campaign last December, another blitz “Nyama Yabvepi” has been organised with ZRP and all other stakeholders started on Monday, 5 June and will run for two weeks.
All stakeholders are obliged to work together for an all-inclusive successful operation. All hands on the deck. We have an obligation to curb livestock rustling and protect public health. This must be done to the best of our ability and at all cost,‘‘he said.
The Department of Veterinary Services had the mandate to ensure public food safety through the inspection of cattle at farms or dip tanks of origin with permits only issued for the movement of healthy animals.
Under no circumstances are movement permits issued to move sick or dead animals. The department is also charged with abattoir inspections and registrations as well as ante-mortem and post-mortem inspections at registered abattoirs. Head of police anti-stock theft unit Assistant Commissioner Ezekiel Munengerwa urged people to cooperate in reducing stock theft. Abattoirs and butcheries should comply with the laws with cattle rustling ia major issue which needed to be dealt with.
‘‘Criminals are there; we live with them. Hence cooperation is needed because police alone cannot fight this battle. Let’s work together to combat the battle. People should seek animal carcass movement permits when moving with meat and should seek clearance from the police whenever they are moving with meat,’’ he said.
He urged people to operate their businesses legally, avoiding illegal food outlets.
Branding was crucial as it provided identity which was crucial in traceability. Anti-stock theft livestock committees were crucial in safeguarding cattle from rustlers, he said.
Cattle branding is being intensified across the country and statistics indicate that this week a total of 85 128 cattle were branded. The cumulative number of branded cattle stands at 1 million cattle against a target of 2 million cattle that must be branded this year.
Several people lost their lives after consuming uninspected meat hence it is critical to buy in registered butcheries.
From the first phase of the operation, 111 butcheries were closed for failing to meet the required standards.
Most people have welcomed the initiative saying it will go a long way in protecting people’s health as well as to protect their cattle from thieves.
Mrs Mary Takaruza of Warren Park 1 in Harare said the initiative will minimise dangers of consuming poisonous meat.
“Cattle rustlers or even butchery owners have a tendency of selling unfit meat with the aim to make profit. Such meat is poisonous to our health. We need to be extra cautious when buying meat. It is crucial also to buy from reputable butcheries. People can do anything to make money hence it is advisable to check the reputation of butcheries before we buy meat,” she said.
Mr Taurai Mhlanga of Banket said the programme is a welcome development which will protect the national herd from cattle rustlers.
‘’We lost large heards of cattle due to these thieves. We applaud the Government for introducing initiatives which are critical in protecting our cattle. This programme will ensure that no illegal movement of meat or cattle will be tolerated,” he said.