Since the Democratic Alliance (DA) raised concerns over alleged attacks against leadership of Onderstepoort Biological Property (OBP) from faceless sources last month, we have been inundated by complaints from farmers and veterinary services regarding the poor service they are receiving from the State-owned enterprise (SOE).
It is time for the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, to intervene decisively and sort the problems at OBP in order to ensure the smooth running of the organization.
The DA will also submit parliamentary questions to the Minister asking the following questions regarding the problems facing OBP:
- Why are blood samples not receiving timeous attention;
- If it is true that the staff at OBP are on strike, what are the reasons for the strike and are these matters receiving attention;
- Why are veterinary services not visiting farms; and
- Why are the premises closed and not able to provide services?
Since the dissolution of the board, farmers and veterinary services have complained that blood samples sent to OBP had not receiving the attention it required in time. Other reports indicated farmers and veterinary practitioners found the OBP gates locked and were informed that the personnel were on strike. They were subsequently asked to send their samples to Cape Town. There are also concerns of the lack of reagents at OBP.
This is an institution trusted with the wellbeing of South African livestock and subsequently the country’s food security, and it is time the Minister and the interim Board take serious stock of the situation and put measures in place to rectify it urgently. Farmers are reliant on the OBP to issue certificates proving that their animals are free of foot-and-mouth disease when they want to sell or export them, and the potential for financial fall-out if these certificates cannot be issued is immense.
The DA urges Minister Didiza to give urgent feedback and provide swift intervention to the concerns plaguing OBP.
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