The Parliament of Zimbabwe recently gazetted for approval an amendment of the Harare (Meat) by-laws under Statutory Instrument (SI) 37 of 2017, replacing the one drafted in 1976. This after rising concern over the selling of meat in the open, which can pose a health hazard to residents.
Harare City Council resolved to recommend for the amendment of the by-law in 2015 following cases of diarrhoeal diseases and were awaiting approval from Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Saviour Kasukuwere.
Then, late last year, Harare suffered two deaths and many casualties after Typhoid gripped the city following heavy rains. This prompted the establishment of a ministerial task force to stamp out the disease – a body that found outdoor vending of fresh foods including vegetables and meat, was a chief culprit in the outbreak.
Meanwhile, Kasukuwere has, in terms of section 229 of the Urban councils Act (Chapter 29:15), approved that the by-laws be amended by the Harare City Council, and it was published in the government gazette on 3 March 2017.
The statute states that the only meat from a domestic animal that may be kept and supplied in a butcher’s shop or food premises or from a vehicle, is meat from a carcass that has been inspected, graded and marked by a government grader, and passed as being free from disease and fit for human consumption.
According to SI 37 of 2017, fresh meat must have been obtained from livestock slaughtered in an abattoir approved by council. Game meat may not be sold unless supplied by a person registered with the council in terms of other provisions of the by-laws and also inspected and marked by a council health inspector.
The new by-law also points out that meat not complying with the regulations may be seized and destroyed. The SI also makes provision for a council health inspector to impose fines for breaches of the by-laws.
Section 6 (2) states that no person shall be registered with the council unless the facilities and the premises which he or she uses for the handling and dressing of game meat have been approved by the medical officer of health.
Stricter penalties also apply. “Any person who contravenes the by-law shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level five or to imprisonment for six months or to both such fine and imprisonment,” reads part of the new by-law.
Harare’s municipal police and the Zimbabwe Republic Police have over the years been engaged in running battles with the vendors in the city, and though the bylaw promotes public health, it is unlikely to stop the informal vending of fresh foods, but force vendors to be more stealthy.