BACKBENCHERS in the House of Representatives are pressing the government to introduce punishments for animal cruelty offences, to curb increasing abuse of domestic animals.
Donkeys and oxen are widely used in Zanzibar for transportation, mainly in villages and some parts of urban centres, but the animals are beaten and forced to carry big loads.
"Animals are tortured and nobody seems to care. The government must act now to protect the animals," said Mr Suleiman Sarahani Said (Chakechake) during the question-and-answer session of the House yesterday.
Responding to the concerns raised by the backbenchers, including Ali Suleiman Ali (Kijitoupele), the Minister for Agriculture, Natural Resources, Livestock and Fisheries, Mr Hamad Rashid Mohamed, said the animals protections law of 1999 allowed deployment of animals in work but prohibited cruelty.
"There has been laxity in observing the law and people have not been charged for overloading or beating animals. It is high time we changed our attitudes towards animals," the minister said. He appealed to members of the House to join hands with other activists to increase awareness in the islands to minimize or stop mishandling of domestic animals, which provide good services in the community