GOING through various districts of Matabeleland North and observing the slaughter facilities for livestock gives you an uncomfortable feeling that someone in the important offices is sleeping on duty.
One very apparent issue is the absence of functional abattoirs other than those within Umguza District which is on the peripheries of Bulawayo.
I have previously lamented the absence of an operational abattoir in Matabeleland North and unfortunately not much has changed since then.
However, it should be noted that an abattoir is not just a business entity within the livestock value chain but it is also a public health facility meant to ensure that meat consumed by human beings is slaughtered under healthy conditions.
It is therefore, on such premise that it is absolutely in good keeping to reprimand the anomaly that there are about 10 butcheries operating in Lupane town yet there is not even a functional slaughter pole, not to mention an abattoir.
This means all the meat that is sold in the butcheries in and around Lupane comes from carcasses of animals slaughtered under trees with very little if any adherence to the minimum health requirements.
In simple terms consumers are fed meat whose health status is not known.
The important question therefore, is what are the powers be doing about it?
It cannot be right to just let butcheries sell meat under such circumstances not withstanding the fact that there are no slaughter facilities.
The basic demands of the relevant legislation as it relates to such public health issues must be enforced whether there is an abattoir or not.
It cannot just be a free reign simply because there are no slaughter facilities.
The absence of facilities does not suddenly make it accepted to sell meat, slaughtered anyhow, to the public.
This situation is not only in Lupane but in some other districts as well and if the responsible powers do not take measures to address the scenario we run the risk of deteriorating to the state which we find in some African countries where animals are slaughtered anywhere and meat is sold on pavements like second-hand clothes.
Zimbabwe prides itself of having elaborate effective systems and it is such systems that we expect to hold fort and protect consumers from consuming flea market meat.
It cannot be right and it does not feel right that each time one eats a meal with beef in some restaurant in Lupane and related areas, the meat is from suspect slaughter conditions yet Lupane is the provincial capital.
It just does not add up. I therefore, invite business-minded people to at least set up an abattoir and a slaughter pole at minimum for slaughter and preparation of carcasses that are sold to butcheries, schools and other institutions.
Relevant law enforcement agents are also being called on to enforce the provisions in the various legislation.
Other than that butcheries should sell meat from meat wholesalers who slaughter in standard places. Hotels and supermarkets in Hwange and Victoria falls are doing that because they are selling to a sensitive clientele and also law enforcers pounce on them heavily if there is any transgression. There are about 19 hotel and lodges in Victoria Falls alone and this will definitely make up the client base for any abattoir in Matabeleland North.
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