Enlightening South African president Zuma

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  January/February 2013: 

CAPE TOWN––Addressing a home province crowd in KwaZulu Natal on December 26,  2012,  South African president Jacob Zuma (above) reportedly denounced keeping pets as part of “white culture,”   and said that people who love dogs more than people display a “lack of humanity.”  

Pan African Animal Welfare Alliance chair and Compassion in World Farming representative Tozie Zokufa responded by reminding Zuma that only one year earlier he declared,  “We must build a society in which women and children feel free and safe,  with no fear of abuse, rape or any form of violence, and a society in which our animals,  especially the rhino,  are safe from ruthless poachers.”

Wrote Zokufa to Zuma,  “On the question of African culture and dog ownership, International Organisation for Animal Health  research into animal welfare across the SADC countries shows a high level of dog ‘ownership’ across the region.  It is true that keeping dogs in homes was not part of traditional African culture. Nor was it part of traditional European culture.  In fact, the relationship between dogs and humans dates back at least 14,000 years,”  to a time long before humans had permanent homes––and dogs and humans may have first kept company in Africa.

Zokufa urged Zuma to emulate Tanzania,  which “introduced a new animal welfare Act in 2008,  which recognizes animals as sentient beings and states that ‘animal protection is an important aspect of any developed society which reflect the degree of moral and cultural maturity of that society’, and that ‘humans have a moral obligation to care for animals, respect and protect an animal’”

Media representatives for Zuma said his remarks about dogs had focused on behavior such as allowing a dog to sit in the cab of a truck while a worker sits in the back in rain,  or rushing an animal to a veterinarian while ignoring sick relatives or workers.

Zokufa pointed out in response the importance of vaccinating and de-worming animals to protect human as well as animal health.


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