Assistant Minister of Agriculture Fidelis Molao last week expressed hope that on-going negotiations with Namibia over beef exports to Angola will bear fruit. Though he was reluctant to state when negotiations will reach a breakthrough, Molao said Botswana authorities have been in earnest talks with their Namibian counterparts in bid to address their concerns over a possible spread of foot and mouth disease (FMD) should Botswana beef be exported to Angola through Namibia.
Besides Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Botswana has established a lucrative market for its beef in Angola, but Namibia has proven to be a stumbling block as it shut its borders to Botswana.
“The Namibians did not allow passage of meat from Maun via Mohembo en-route to Angola, saying they first needed to carry out risk assessment. The risk assessment was delayed for a year, but when it came it indicated that beef could not pass from an FMD infected area through Namibia to Angola,” said Molao. “However, negotiations are still going on and from the look of things there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
In response, Members of Parliament asked Molao what assurance Botswana has on whether the beef that passes through Botswana from Namibia to South Africa is not FMD infected.
“The meat comes from the green zones. We trust Namibian authorities to adhere to international standards and protocol in that regard,” said Molao in response.
However, Maun West legislator Konstantinos Markus was not convinced as he demanded that Molao should show proof.
“What proof is there that their meat comes from green zones? Maybe they are fuelling the spread of FMD in Botswana,” he said.
Markus’ comments come in the wake of a revelation by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) earlier this year that Namibian cattle had tested positive for foot and mouth disease, the first cases in the country for six years. The Philippines responded by temporarily banning importation of beef and livestock products from Namibia.