Waiting to explode


Zimbabwe is literary a country waiting to explode, not because of the political and economic crisis that it is experiencing, or pressure from visiting United States President George Bush who has called for a regime change in the country, but from the shortage of fuel.

The country has been dry for almost a month with only those service stations serving public transport getting either petrol or diesel. Fuel from Libya has not yet arrived and some people are beginning to doubt whether it will arrive.

To ease the pressure the government has allowed companies and individuals to import their own fuel. Companies are allowed to import up to 25 000 litres while individuals were initially allowed to import 200 litres duty free. This has now been increased to 2 000 litres or 10 drums.

While fuel imported by individuals is supposed to be for private use, most people are selling it and because they do not have storage facilities, they are keeping the fuel at their homes, including people staying in flats.

With the fuel selling for anything between Z$1 500 and Z$2 000 a litre, compared to the official Z$450 a litre everyone is trying to cash in. Safety is one of their least considerations. The government has so far turned a blind eye on these illegal sales because service stations are dry. Perhaps it will take an explosion, likely to result in several deaths, to wake the government from its slumber.


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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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