FMD outbreak 2011 victims prevail against Gov't

In early 2011, Botswana encountered an outbreak of FMD PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
In early 2011, Botswana encountered an outbreak of FMD PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO

The 2011 Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak victims and farmers Galebonwe Mlolawa and 45 others will be compensated 12 years after the outbreak. Gaborone High Court judge, Justice Zein Kebonang has finally granted a judgment in favour of the victims from Zone 6 and 7 whose cattle were slaughtered by government following the outbreak.

The case that judge Kebonang referred to as perhaps the longest undecided case in the history of the country has been decided with the Registrar of the High Court directed to make a determination within 21 days of the order on what would amount to fair compensation or market value of the victims’ livestock. The decision comes after the 46 victims of the FMD outbreak filed a review application in 2011 challenging the government for many issues and mainly the payment of P1, 700.00 per beast as compensation. In the judgment, Kebonang set aside the decision of the director in the Department of Animal Health to slaughter the applicants’ livestock and the compensation amount of P1, 700.00. “The review application succeeds. The decision of the director to slaughter the applicants’ livestock is reviewed and set aside and the compensation of P1, 700.00 is also set aside. The question of what would amount to fair compensation or market value of the applicants’ livestock is referred to the Registrar for determination,” he said. The judge explained that although the amount appears to be definitive and ascertainable and to provide a guide for market value, the amount reflected the prices as they were in 2011. He said in his view, the amount could not be appropriate indicator of the fair market value because it was simply too remote in time when one has regard to the fact that the year now is 2023 therefore, for that reason that is why the question of fair market value was referred to the Registrar.

Justice Kebonang further explained that valuation determined by government was irrational in that it placed the same value for infected and uninfected animals. “Common sense dictates that the valuations should have been different. In respect of infected animals the valuation should have been the animal in its infected state, in which case its value would be the value of the usable parts of the slaughtered carcass while in respect of the uninfected animals, it should have been the disease free value of such animals,” he said. He explained that a slaughter value would be justified in respect of infected animals because once an animal is infected its value is greatly diminished and that such animal cannot be used for breeding, milking nor sold for consumption. Kebonang said the infected animals cannot hold the same value in respect of healthy animals, therefore the compensation amounts stand to be reviewed and set aside.

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