Masvingo Provincial Veterinary Officer Enerst Dzimwasha has been criticised for his alleged ineffectual handling of a tick-borne disease which is wiping entire herds of cattle in several areas under Gutu district.
The disease, commonly known as January Disease, has wiped entire heads in such places as Guni, Makore, Chiwara in Gutu South and Makumbe in Gutu North.
The disease is also present in such parts of Gutu West as Serima as well as Munyikwa in Gutu East though it is not much prevalent.
Villagers from some of these areas who spoke to TellZim News blamed poor educative communication from the Masvingo Provincial Veterinary Office which is headed by Dzimwasha.
They also blamed the department for prioritising the collection of livestock tax without providing the requisite dipping services at regular intervals.
They said communication between communities and the veterinary offices that are scattered at selected centres in the district was largely non-existent.
“There are no more cattle in this village and we have become poorer than ever before. Cattle mean a lot for the village economy and if you take away that, you create paupers,” said one villager under Chief Makore who lost his entire herd of seven cattle beginning from April this year.
Villagers under Chief Serima said the Veterinary Services Department rarely supplied dipping chemicals, a problem which they blamed for the outbreak of the tick-borne disease.
“Whenever you see a veterinary officer, he is coming to talk about the money we must pay for every cow in the pen. They claim that if we pay the money, they are then able to buy chemicals so that our cattle can go to the dip tank regularly, but that is not happening. We are just paying but we are not getting the service,” said one villager who lost three cattle in three months.
Other villagers said they rarely receive information on how to keep their cattle safe in light of the many diseases affecting livestock.
When Dzimwasha was contacted for comment, he dismissed concerns about the disease saying it was now a ‘tired’ issue.
“That is a very old issue which is no longer urgent. I don’t have time for that because I am busy attending a workshop at a hotel in Bulawayo and cannot keep on talking about those issues,” said Dzimwasha.
A veterinary practitioner in Masvingo urged people to buy their own dipping chemicals and spray their cattle.
“It’s likely to get worse as we approach the rainy season where new grazing will sprout. The ticks thrive in good pastures. People can buy such chemicals as Butachem which can treat affected cattle. It is also recommended that people immunise their cattle using such chemicals as Parasite and Tick Guard,” said the vet practitioner.
The Provincial Veterinary Office is located within the Division of Veterinary Field Services under the Department of Livestock and Veterinary Services in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development.
Some of the department’s listed duties include providing extension and advisory services on good animal health care, hygiene and husbandry as well as carrying out surveillance, prevention, control and eradication of specified animal diseases and pests.