Democratic Alliance MP Annette Steyn said the party submitted an application earlier this year to the department for the reports, one of them by the World Health Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) on foot and mouth disease. The request was denied.
“On 26 July… the DA submitted another… application, to which we have received a response today, where the department states that the OIE report was not provided by the organisation,” Steyn said.
“This is in contradiction to a letter from the OIE clearly stating that a detailed assessment has in fact been made available to… [the department].”
She said the department’s denial of the existence of the report was “clearly intended to mislead the public about the true status of animal health in South Africa”.
Joemat-Pettersson said Steyn was “creating a storm in a teacup”.
“There have never been any secrets nor denials about the existence of the OIE report and, in fact, Ms Steyn has been informed of this personally,” she said in a statement.
“A parliamentary answer to the question on the OIE made it clear that the department was in discussion with the OIE and that the report would be made after evaluations had been completed.”
Joemat-Pettersson said the DA was using the OIE as a red-herring, when it should be focusing on ensuring the Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA) was passed.
“The purpose of the… bill is to provide a legal framework for the implementation of the small scale fisheries policy.” she said.
“To date, the DA has not given any backing to the amendment despite the fact one of the hardest hit communities is located within the West Coast of the Western Cape [which is led by the DA].”
Joemat-Pettersson said “Steyn and her DA counterparts” had to explain why they were so focused on the OIE report, instead of investing their energy on the MLRA.
Steyn said the OIE report contained information about steps the department needed to implement for the ban on South Africa’s meat and poultry exports to the European Union to be lifted.
“The ban will not be lifted until the issues identified by the OIE are rectified by… [the department],” she said.
“If the department once again fails to meet the requirements of the OIE, the economy could lose at least R4 billion in export revenue and thousands of jobs in the coming year.”
Steyn said the DA would request the report directly from the OIE.