By Andrew Irumba
Two ministers clashing over the enforcement of a quarantine that was recently announced by the ministry of agriculture following an outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease in some parts of the country.
Gen. Elly Tumwine, the minister for security is clashing with Joy Kafura Kabatasi, the minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Ministry-MAIF.
It should be noted that although primarily animal health and their related issues fall under the Agriculture Ministry, government mandated the same Ministry to work hand in hand with the Security Ministry because of the transboundary spread of diseases and enforcement of quarantines.
However, instead of working in liaison, the two ministries seem to be often clashing and officials are acting in a manner that makes them appear as if they are operating parallel to each other.
Spy Uganda has learnt Kabasti blames Gen. Tumwine of being ‘arrogant and too harsh’ while enforcing the cattle quarantine.
Following the deadly FMD outbreak government imposed quarantines in the cattle corridor in order to control the movement of diseased animals to uninfected areas, which will worsen the spread of the diseases.
However, whereas the ban is working in some areas, authorities in the Agriculture and security ministries are disagreeing on the quarantine enforcement tactics amid a fresh outbreak in the cattle corridor.
Kabasti, during a stakeholders’ meeting hosted by Mpigi district last year, agreed that the quarantine be reduced to specific sub-counties where the disease has been reported, instead of the entire district or sub-region, a proposal their counterparts from the security ministry have since failed to observe while enforcing the quarantine.
She said that “All what the officers from the Security ministry have on their mind is stopping movement of all animals, regardless of where they are coming from, which is jeopardizing the animal industry and causing more loses to herders who are already strained by the cattle diseases.”
She noted that “In many incidents, officers acting on orders of Gen Tumwine have mistreated livestock farmers, even those living in disease free areas by impounding their cattle even when they present valid permits.”
However, Gen. Tumwine, who accepted to have been harsh while enforcing the quarantine, said he is soon tightening the grip to become harsher so as to fight FMD and kick it out of Uganda.
He said that through their operations they helped to fight the disease, which saw quarantines lifted in some areas but corrupt officials from the Agriculture Ministry, some district leaders and at times officers within security circles adamantly started moving diseased animals creating a fresh outbreak.
He also revealed that they have put in place strategies to mete out harsher punishments to whoever will fail to adhere to the quarantine. He instead advised farmers to report any cases of FMD outbreaks at their farms to the nearest veterinary officers.