Meat vending raises stink

Women sell mean on a roadside in Harare

Women sell mean on a roadside in Harare

Meat vending has increased as phenomenally as have other commodities in recent times but concerns have spiked over health and an increase in livestock theft.

Malven Mugadzikwa Correspondent
At a typical shopping centre in Harare’s high density suburbs, the hustle and bustle of the evening epitomise the melting pot.
Shoppers, vendors, drunkards and loafers congest the little space of what used to be quiet, anonymous shopping centres when the suburbs were conceived decades ago.

The ever-increasing population in urban areas, compounded by high unemployment, has fed into the growth of the informal sector, of which vending is the principal riposte as people sell anything from sweets and airtime vouchers to clothes and household goods.

Yet one commodity on sale at the shopping centres – and even roadsides, alleys and sidewalks – is raising a particular stink.
Meat vending has increased as phenomenally as have other commodities in recent times but concerns have spiked over health and an increase in livestock theft.

The mushrooming of a large number of illegal meat vendors and butcheries operating without licences has been correlated to high number of cattle rustlers as well as those who sell meat from cattle or chicken that have died of diseases that might impact on people’s health.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police National Co-ordinator Anti-Stock Theft Unit, Senior Assistant Commissioner Bernard Dumbura recently addressing an anti-stock theft awareness campaign, said that everyone operating in the livestock and meat industry should go by the governing rules and laws within the industry.

“Let me just emphasise that those involved in the meat and livestock industry should religiously adhere to the rules governing the livestock and meat industry as well as procedures when clearing and transporting our livestock from one place to another.

“There are still challenges of indiscipline in the livestock and meat industry despite the decrease in stock theft, with butcheries and abattoirs at times breaching the law.

“Some unscrupulous abattoir and butchery operators buy rustled cattle as they are cheaper than those legitimately acquired.”
Senior Assistant Commissioner Dumbura also noted that in most cases illegal meat agents are transporting cattle to abattoirs for service slaughter, after the service slaughter, these middlemen supply the meat to butcheries and food outlets.

“If these undesirable elements in our midst (illegal agents) fail to secure the market, they supply to anyone and the meat ends up being supplied to illegal meat vendors.

This, he said, resulted in consumers eating unhealthy meat and other livestock products.
In an effort to counter this menace, ZRP says it will arrest anyone breaching the law despite his or her status in life.
“Operations and visits to abattoirs and butcheries will be intensified,” said Snr Ass Comm Dumbura.

Senior Assistant Commissioner Dumbura also added that if illegal activities in the meat and livestock industries are not considered, ethical business practices will be a pipe dream. And in such a situation the public are exposed to health hazards and businesses are affected as there is unfair competition from those who are not registered.

The Harare City Council is unhappy with the state of affairs in the meat industry.
There are a lot of unethical business practices by some abattoirs and butcheries; some butcheries are being operated without licenses, no running water and some with broken windows allowing dust and flies to enter easily.

Some butcheries are employing meat handlers who have no medical test certificates as well as selling riposte uninspected meat. Butcheries are also providing storage for uninspected meat, exposing retail meat to health hazards.

Harare City Council Corporate Communications Manager Lesley Gwindi emphasised that the Harare City Health Department would work hand in hand with law enforcers to get rid of illegal activities within the livestock and meat industry since such practices put the public’s health at risk.

“The city views illegal meat vending as a worrisome trend that exposes residents to diseases.
“The major worry is that the meat vendors trade from uninspected premises. No one can guarantee whether the meat on sell is beef, pork or mutton. People end up buying such meat because it’s cheap but they don’t know how it effects to their health.

“We are also of the concern that we should work hand in hand with other enforcers like ZRP Anti Stock Theft Unit to get rid of such meat traders so that we serve the public from health hazards and complications caused by such meats being sold on open places and along roadsides.”

“I also urge the public especially those who buy from meat vendors that personal health is a self responsibility.
“Buying meat from unlicensed vendors is irresponsible as it does not only expose the buyer to diseases and food poisoning but families as well.

“Some of the meats that are sold are not inspected and in such a way most of these vendors buy the meat in bulk from cattle rustlers, who sometimes take meat from animals that die after being poisoned.

“Some of the meat is from animals that die from various diseases that might get people infected by various diseases. Such diseases include cholera, foot and mouth, anthrax, typhoid, diarrhoea and dysentery,” he said.

Mr Gwindi said that the Harare City Council would continue with its enforcement duties, mounting of awareness campaigns against illegal meat vending and the dangers associated with buying from illegal meat vendors.

He added that to end illegal activities, the city will play its part with regards to licensing of butcheries, inspection of slaughtering premises and handling the meat.
Meanwhile, at shopping centres in Mabvuku, Epworth, Mbare, Highfield, Glen View, Budiriro, Chitungwiza, and so on, business continues.

It is a matter of life.
“We have to do this to feed our families,” revealed one lady who refused to be named.