Ministers biggest beneficiaries of cheap fuel?


Killer Zivhu, leader of the Cross Border Traders Association, was blunt and straight to the point. Zimbabwe’s leaders are squarely to blame for the current crisis in the country. The major reason why they are allowing to the country to collapse is that they are thriving from the chaos.

Zivhu said even President Robert Mugabe could not be exonerated. The case of Zimbabwe was like that of a father with an orange tree in his garden, he said. If one child started plucking the oranges before they were ripe and the father just watched without reprimanding the child, other children followed suit. Even those who wanted to wait until the fruit was ripe would end up plucking the fruit because it would be finished before it was ripe.

Zimbabwe’s leaders were doing the same thing. They were allowing people to destroy the country while they watched and knew what was happening. Zivhu said surely no minister’s wife, son or daughter could be trading in foreign currency without the minister’s knowledge. No minister’s wife, daughter or son could be going in and out of the country without the minister’s knowledge.

His association had alerted everyone from the central bank, Zimra, to the Ministry of Finance how foreign and local currency was bleeding out of the country, but no one had paid any attention. “Unopedzisira wava kuita sebenzi iwe”. (You end up looking like a fool).

Jonathan Kadzura has tried to say the same thing over a period but he has never been as blunt as Zivhu. Even Nhlanhla Masuku alludes to this now and again but he is too close to the ruling establishment to make any impact.

Any moves by the government, therefore, to address the problem of foreign currency especially if the commission, or the much-favoured task force, is headed by one of Mugabe’s old hands is viewed with skepticism. It is written off as hoodwinking the public before it even kicks off. After all ministers and senior party officials are the biggest beneficiaries. Why would they want to kill their golden goose?

According to highly reliable sources, a police investigation into the fuel distribution system had revealed that ministers were the biggest beneficiaries of the cheap fuel that the government is supposed to be selling at $450 a litre to public transport operators. Sources said what was more revolting was that the ministers were not “ordering” the fuel for personal use but for resale at black market prices.

Funny enough, President Mugabe said those who were selling fuel on the black market were saboteurs who were fighting against the government’s agrarian reform. Could he have been talking about his lieutenants as well since some of them have defied the one-person one-farm directive?

Imagine getting fuel for $450 and selling it for $4 400 a litre! Even at the new price of $1 750 a litre, they still make a killing. Who would want to stop such a lucrative business even if the nation suffers in the process? After all, one can safely argue: Aren’t they suffering already anyway?

Now word on the street is that since ministers have made their money, the government is planning to review duty on fuel, increasing it tenfold on or before the budget scheduled for November 20. What a mess!


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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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