MATSILOJE: Irate Matsiloje farmers railed at the Minister of Agriculture, Christian De Graafm at a meeting on Friday after hearing that the government will cull their cattle to control the outbreak of the Foot and Mouth Disease.
The farmers told the minister to go back to the drawing board and think again. The first to raise his concerns was MP for Tati East, Guma Moyo who said the government is inconsiderate. "How can you make decisions of killing cattle before you consult with the concerned people?" asked the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) legislator. Moyo said the government should have discussed the FMD outbreak with the concerned parties before deciding to cull the cattle. He said people spend a lot in raising cattle and it is not fair to kill the animals and get inadequate compensation.
"As farmers the FMD outbreak is not our fault, for. It should not be the people that suffer," he said. Matsiloje deputy chief, Mothibi Lephalo vowed that they will not allow their cattle to be killed. "Never," he barked.
Lephalo accused the government of being oppressive and selfish. "It is your fault that we have FMD today. We have long pleaded with government to mend the border fence to control cattle movement to no avail," he said to De Graaf. He said government cares less about the people unless it is
Another farmer, Savvy Toitoi said the government wants to rob them through BMC. "BMC will buy at P10 per kg while I can sell for P19 per kg. This is daylight robbery," he said. Toitoi said that some of them kept rare breeds that are expensive to rear.
He said the government is oppressive and blamed De Graaf for consulting people who not affected by the FMD. He said Matsiloje farmers only heard of the government's decision to cull in the media. Ex-councillor, Simon Lephalo, who chairs the farmers committee, said government should have long repaired the border fence.
"About 300 kilometers along the border is just an open space. This we revealed to the government and nothing was done. Zimbabweans roam freely with their cattle. They cross easily to steal our cattle, thus spreading infections as well," he said.
Area councillor, Florah Mpetsane said that killing cattle will traumatise farmers. She pleaded with De Graaf to reverse the decision. "As we speak, people are stressed. Killing cattle would leave them impoverished," she said. She swore that they will not allow the culling because they depend on cattle.