MEAT KAMPALA CATTLE MINISTER
Joy Kabatsi, the state minister for the animal industry on Thursday came under attack from lawmakers after revealing the authorisation of the slaughter of over 180 sick cattle two months ago.
The cattle were slaughtered at the Kampala abattoir with the meat mostly consumed by people in Kampala and its environs. Responding to queries about the clandestine movement of cattle afflicted with foot and mouth disease (FMD) in the districts of Kazo, Gomba, and Ssembabule by rogue traders and district veterinary officers, Kabatsi highlighted the “quick” slaughter of the sick animals as one of the ways used to tackle the disease.
To MPs’ consternation, Kabatsi, a lawyer by training, said the reason her ministry authorised the slaughter of the sick cattle is because FMD is benign and not transmittable to humans. “FMD does not affect human beings. We can eat meat. That is what veterinary doctors tell me,” Kabatsi said, spawning a ripple of protest from lawmakers.
FMD is an infectious and sometimes fatal viral disease that affects cloven-hoofed animals, including domestic and wild bovids. The virus causes fever for between two and six days, followed by blisters inside the mouth and on the feet that may rupture and cause lameness.
FMD has severe implications for animal farming since it is highly infectious and can be spread by infected animals comparatively easily through contact with contaminated farming equipment, vehicles, clothing, feed and by domestic and wild predators. Its containment demands considerable efforts in vaccination, strict monitoring, trade restrictions, quarantines and the culling of both infected and healthy (non-infected) animals.
MPs heard that diseased cattle had been bought from the Kazo farm of constitutional affairs minister, Gen. Kahinda Otafi ire by a one Mulindwa. However, MPs Jonathan Odur, Elijah Okupa, and Judith Alyek faulted Kabatsi for carelessly compromising the health of Ugandans through failure to supervise her docket.
“It's shocking that the minister is admitting that infectious poisonous meat is being sold to Ugandans. This means that you're failing to supervise your ministry,” Odur said. Contrary to what Kabatsi had told Parliament, according to Alyek, FMD, just like many other zoonotic diseases can afflict human beings who consume the meat of diseased animals.
The issue of FMD causing herders in parts of the cattle corridor financial constraints through protracted quarantines was raised by Gomba woman MP, Robinah Rwakoojo. “FMD is a business for some people who benefit from the imposed quarantine,” Rwakoojo said.
Although Rwakoojo did not expound on her statement, lawmakers representing constituencies in the cattle corridor have always complained that quarantines normally fuel corruption as financially desperate herders try to get their cattle to abattoirs.
In August, at the agriculture ministry issued an indefinite quarantine prohibiting the sale, movement and slaughter of animals in parts of Ssembabule following an outbreak of FMD. Meanwhile, minister of health, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng argued with Kabatsi on the floor of Parliament over the prevalence of counterfeited acaricides on the market.