Zimbabwe has banned the use of fuel containers to stop what it claims to be hoarding which has led to “artificial” fuel shortages.
Energy Minister Joram Gumbo told the Chronicle: “Those using tanks, drums and jerry cans, all those forms of containers should stop and we are sending out inspectors and the Zimbabwe Republic Police and if anybody is going to be found maybe overcharging or using drums might have their licences withdrawn. We are not going to allow that.”
Zimbabwe has been experiencing fuel shortages since the beginning of this month when the government announced a new monetary policy which reintroduced foreign currency accounts as well as a new two percent tax on transactions.
The bond note and electronic money plunged as people went into panic buying to get rid of their bond notes. Prices rocketed and people began to queue for fuel.
Although Gumbo’s deputy Magna Mudyiwa told Parliament nearly two weeks ago that the country had enough fuel stocks to last the country five weeks, people did not believe the government and the shortage persists with queues getting longer and longer.
The surrogate currency which had plunged against the United States dollar following the announcement began recovering last Thursday but prices remain high.
Some businesses including service stations are demanding payment in United States dollars.
Gumbo warned service stations doing so that their licences might be revoked.
“We also had to warn some of the companies that we heard were demanding forex for fuel because it’s not their responsibility because the forex that we use to buy fuel from Msasa or Mabvuku or international companies is sourced by government,” Gumbo said.
“So, there is no point in an individual company demanding payment for fuel in foreign currency and some of them were saying they were only serving their clients with coupons from their companies that should not happen.”
Gumbo insisted there was enough fuel in the country but it had to be paid for in foreign currency. “There are enough stocks of fuel, we have not run out. There is sufficient fuel in the country but for us to access that fuel we need forex and the demand for fuel caught everyone by surprise. So, what we have been doing for now is negotiate with RBZ that they can increase the fuel allocation they give to companies . . . and the indication is that RBZ has agreed and are going to consider increasing the allocation, which they give to oil companies.”
Skeptical Zimbabweans have said this is a good as saying there is no fuel because the government does not have the foreign currency.