Minister says Zimbabweans must remember US dollar is still foreign currency


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Zimbabweans must remember that the United States dollar is foreign currency and must conserve it so everyone must support the government directive to blend local fuel with ethanol because this will save the country US$8 million a month, the Deputy Minister of Energy and Power Development Munacho Mutezo said yesterday.

Responding to questions by three senators who wanted to know what the true position about blended fuel was following complaints that the 15 percent ethanol blend now being regulated by the government would damage some vehicles, Mutezo said the government was in fact allowed by law to increase the blending to 20 percent.

The bending could even go up to 25 percent but the government had decided to limit this to 15 percent.

“It is also in the national interest to do so, as by using blended petrol, we stand to save US$8 million dollars a month as a nation. I do not think those are facts we can take lightly. By the way, US dollar is still foreign currency and that is why we do not print it. So we need to conserve it and we ask everyone to support this particular exercise because it is not just the Ministry, it is all of us who stand to benefit,” he said.

Mutezo echoed the sentiments expressed by Energy Minister Dzikamai Mavhaire that those against the increased blending had vested interests.

“We also have car dealers who have imported cars that need fuel which is supplied only from selected fuel outlets. We have also noticed that the filling stations used by these car dealers have interests in them. They are shareholders who are trying to take advantage of the situation by creating false claims around the quality of our fuel. But as far as we are concerned, we cannot force people to use this particular fuel. The fuel in Zimbabwe is good for any other car. We believe that if a car engine has been damaged by using fuel which is not recommended, then one should seek legal recourse,” Mutezo said.

Mavhaire said: “The country’s thrust and economy is not determined by a few people who own Mercedes-Benz cars. It is determined by how do we benefit as a country? Firstly, there is employment creation, saving money lost through importation of fuel, reducing price of fuel and generating power.

“You must understand, economic development is not about few individuals. When the economy is developing, you adjust accordingly and Mercedes- Benz or Mazda is not what it was at the beginning. They adjust along the way.”

 

Q & A:

 

SENATOR CHITAKA: Thank you Madam President. My question is directed to the Hon. Deputy Minister of Energy and Power Development, Eng. Mutezo. Hon. Minister, can you clarify the policy on ethanol blending. We hear so many conflicting reports whether it is now E15, E20 etc. Where are we going? What is the exact position regarding this?

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER DEVELOPMENT: (ENG. MUTEZO): Thank you Madam President, I would like to thank Senator Chitaka for his question which gives us an opportunity to clarify the position. The position with regards to ethanol is that we have an Act of Parliament that makes blending of ethanol compulsory in the country. The current percentage of blend is 15% and plans are afoot to bring it up to the maximum of 20% as was stated by the President when he opened Parliament, I thank you.

SENATOR MUMVURI: My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Energy and Power Development. Is it a substantiated fact that vehicles which are assembled locally, especially at Willowvale Motor Industries are having problems with the E10 or E15 blended petrol? If that is true, what is the Government doing to alleviate the problems which are being faced by the motorists?

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER DEVELOPMENT (ENG: MUTEZO): I would like to thank the honourable senator for his question. As we are all aware, the legislation to do with ethanol blending passed through both Houses of Parliament. It is indeed law that we are required to do mandatory blending. All vehicles that use petrol in Zimbabwe are required to use mandatory blended fuel which currently is at 15% and as already been indicated will go to 20%.

Our expectation as Government and the Ministry in particular, is that vehicle importers and manufactures will work within the law, which means they should start bringing in vehicles that are able to use the legally available blended fuel. Of course, we are in discussion with the vehicle manufactures as well as the dealers to ensure that they understand the position and that they will be able to comply.

Madam President, I must also highlight that elsewhere in the world, the vehicles are available that are able to comply with these levels of fuel. If you recall, before the drought of 1992, certainly soon after independence or during UDI, vehicles were using blend; this is not the first time it has happened. I think the 20% that we are aiming for is not unreasonable. There are vehicles that can use 25% ethanol but we are only going for 20%.

It is also in the national interest to do so, as by using blended petrol, we stand to save US$8 million dollars a month as a nation. I do not think those are facts we can take lightly. By the way, US dollar is still foreign currency and that is why we do not print it. So we need to conserve it and we ask everyone to support this particular exercise because it is not just the Ministry, it is all of us who stand to benefit.

*SENATOR MUZENDA: Thank you Madam President. My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Energy and Power Development, Engineer Mutezo. We are informed that some of our fuels in Zimbabwe, especially car fuels which are petrol and diesel are not compatible with all makes of cars. Some are damaged by this kind of fuel, especially these new cars like the ones we have just acquired as hon. members, the Ford Rangers. Please explain to us so that we know which fuels are compatible with our car engines?

*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER DEVELOPMENT (ENG. MUTEZO): I thank hon. Senator Muzenda for this question. The regulations laid down by the Government state that diesel or petrol which is sold in all filling stations of Zimbabwe should have specifications set down by the State. This is regarding all the fuels and specifications have to be followed by all suppliers of fuel.

As for petrol, the rules and regulations say there should be 15 % of ethanol which is the minimum range which is supposed to be mixed with 85% petrol. We also have a Government department referred to as Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA). This is responsible for inspecting all the service stations, garages and all in the fuel industries or those dealing with jet A1 used in aeroplanes. These are supervised by ZERA to ensure that the suppliers are following the set down regulations. ZERA has a committee which goes round the filling stations inspecting the fuel to see if it is according to the specifications.

We also have car dealers who have imported cars that need fuel which is supplied only from selected fuel outlets. We have also noticed that the filling stations used by these car dealers have interests in them. They are shareholders who are trying to take advantage of the situation by creating false claims around the quality of our fuel. But as far as we are concerned, we cannot force people to use this particular fuel. The fuel in Zimbabwe is good for any other car. We believe that if a car engine has been damaged by using fuel which is not recommended, then one should seek legal recourse.

The Government set down rules and regulations for ZERA who had to set the specifications which are to be followed for all the fuels to be used by local cars in the country.

(6 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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