The proposed importation of 153 sable antelope from Zambia next month could introduce foot and mouth disease to SA, with disastrous consequences for local red meat, venison and ostrich meat producers who rely heavily on the export market, red meat producers say.
On December 21, while most interested parties were taking their Christmas break, Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson published a notice in the Government Gazette proposing to import sable from Zambia.
The notice included guidelines for the proposed protocol to be used, according to Business Day of South Africa.
The sable come from Zambia’s Kafue National Park, which has recorded cases of three types of foot and mouth disease.
They are being imported by a consortium of businessmen that includes a Zanu (PF) official and are being held in quarantine pens in a Zambian game reserve prior to being air-freighted to SA in the middle of next month, said lawyer Louis Garb, who is representing the Red Meat Forum of SA in a pending application to stop the importation.
The importation of these animals would contravene the provisions of the Animal Diseases Act and could see a complete ban on red meat exports by the Office International de Epizooties (OIE), the organisation for animal health, he said.
An urgent application is due to be brought to the South Gauteng High Court by the Red Meat Forum, aimed at stopping the new protocol being ratified.
In November, before the publication of the proposed protocol, the forum wrote to Dr BM Modisane, director-general of SA’s department of veterinary services, warning of the risks.
Of primary concern to beef producers and game ranchers, however, is that no valid trade risk analysis has been conducted by v eterinary services , nor has one been made available to them or to the OIE.
Garb said a trade risk analysis was required in terms of the rules of the World Trade Organisation, of which SA is a signatory.
In a letter addressed to Joemat- Pettersson, Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica, Deputy Agriculture Minister Pieter Mulder and director of the directorate of animal health Dr Mpho Maja, Garb said the proposed protocol and the manner in which it had been done threatened “to create a hitherto unknown precedent that (affects) the importation of all cloven-hoofed animals from Zambia” .