MEC Zwane delegates mandate to NSPCA

Roy Jankielsohn MPL

DA MPL in the Free State Provincial Legislature

The Free State MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs has admitted that his Department does not pay much attention to animal welfare. In a reply to a question by the DA in the legislature, MEC Zwane, indicated that “Animal welfare is the mandate of the NSPCA and we work closely with them.”  (See attached response from the NSPCA)

This statement raises issues over the capacity and resources of the SPCA in the Free State to carry out such functions. The Harrismith SPCA has been taken over by another organisation and the Bethlehem SPCA does not have an inspector. Most towns do not have SPCA branches to carry out animal welfare work. Furthermore, the SPCA is reliant on donations for their existence and their work is restricted to availability of money and other resources.

If the Department does not take responsibility for animal welfare and the MEC delegates this task to the SPCA, then the Department should assist the SPCA with resources to carry out this work.

The MEC indicates further that: “most lion are exported to North-West Province to be hunted; our mandate is limited to the Free State Province.” In this respect it is important to note that lions in the Free State are mostly bred for hunting and the value of their bones. Like most other animals, lions have also become commercial objects.

The commonly used conservation argument regarding wildlife breeding is dismissed by the MEC’s comment that: “One must keep in mind that all these large predators kept in captivity have no conservation/biodiversity value due to the fact that they are captive bred, hand reared and no stud books are kept, these predators hold no value to the environment”.

The sad reality is that, like most other countries in the world, the commercial value of our natural heritage has replaced any moral or ethical considerations in this regard.