Agriculture Minister of Swaziland Moses Vilakati says a deadly foot and mouth disease has broken out in that country after King Mswati accepted a gift of buffaloes from President Edgar Lungu earlier this month.

But State House press aide Amos Chanda says it is not possible that the buffaloes could have carried the disease because they were certified healthy before being transported to the Kingdom.

According to the Swaziland press, the European Union has banned beef imports from that country following a suspected foot-and-mouth disease outbreak, allegedly caused by the buffaloe donation.

“When the buffalos arrived into the country they were accompanied by documents certifying that they had tested negative for the disease. But we have since taken their blood samples for further tests to be conducted in South Africa where we seek to confirm the initial test results,” the Agency Press Africa (APA) quoted minister Vilakati as saying.

“The buffaloes are being kept under quarantine in Malindza in the Lubombo region of Swaziland. The minister said all animals that utilise dip tanks located within a radius of 10 kilometres from where the three buffalos are, have been quarantined too. Swaziland Meat Industries, the country’s major beef exporter, has meanwhile suspended all cattle purchases from farmers and the payments of export bonuses until further notice,” reported local press.

But in an interview with News Diggers! President Lungu’s spokesperson said it was highly unlikely that the animals could have transmitted the foot and mouth disease.

“They (buffaloes) were actually two not three, and what we know is that the two animals were not sick. So they cannot transmit a disease that they don’t have. If they were sick, they could not have been accepted in that country. So I will check for the actual details from the people who moved the animals. But His Majesty’s government had to check the animals. They were actually scrutinised regardless of the fact that they were a gift to the King,” Chanda said.

He said the buffaloes were kept at the airport for a long time until the Swaziland wildlife authority was sure that the animals were healthy.

“I remember they actually overstayed at the airport until they were sure that the animals were not sick. But I will still check with the department of wildlife here just to give you the paperwork. For now our position is that the animals cannot transmit a disease that they don’t have,” said Chanda.

Take a listen: