*HON. SACCO: Hon. Speaker, my question is concerning fuel. We have seen that after the new dispensation, there are a lot of economic activities and our fuel is the cheapest in the region when we compare it to US dollar prices. So, what measures have they put in place to ensure that it does not find its way into the black market. What can we do to ensure that fuel does not find its way to the black market? I thank you.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER DEVELOPMENT (HON. MUDYIWA): On the first question when the Hon. Member asked about the policy on fuel, whether we have got enough fuel in the country. As the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, our mandate is to make sure that we have got enough fuel in the country and that is what we are implementing. That is exactly what we are doing as a Ministry – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjection.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. Hon. Member seated there, allow the Hon. Minister to answer the question.
HON. MUDYIWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, the Ministry, through the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA), we are trying our best to make sure there is enough fuel in the country. Following this upsurge in the withdrawal of fuel from the service stations which was unprecedented, we have implemented certain measures to ensure that there is enough fuel in the country.
Firstly, we have enough fuel that is being pumped into the country through our pipe lines and is being stored at the Feruka tanks and at the Msasa Storage Tanks, but the major problem that we are encountering is that even though fuel is in the country, we cannot withdraw it without payment of the required funds. This is because there has been an upsurge in usage of fuel following the increased economic activity probably due to the benefits of the new dispensation. We have enough fuel in the country. That I can assure you, but the challenge is that we do not have enough foreign currency to pay for the fuel so that it is withdrawn by the fuel suppliers and taken to the wholesalers and the retailers.
The queues are continuing – yes, but this is all because of speculation. Following the panic buying that has been going on in the country, there is a lot of hording of fuel in the country. There is a lot of unprecedented withdrawal of fuel in the country which has caused all this artificial shortage in the country, but there is enough fuel in our storage tanks. We have our storage tanks and we also have strategic reserves for fuel in the country. I can assure you, we have enough fuel, diesel and blend to take the country through for the next 36 days. From Saturday there has been pumping in of over 6 000 000 litres of diesel and blend into the country on a daily basis, but the problem, like I said before, we cannot withdraw it without payment upfront.
The Reserve Bank has been trying to provide the funds. I am sure most of you have read in the newspaper that the Reserve Bank has availed US$41 million for payment of fuel and that fuel we have paid for is in the country. Thank you, Mr. Speaker Sir – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjection.] –
*HON. SACCO: Mr. Speaker Sir, my question is how can we avoid panic buying because fuel supply – from what I heard, is adequate for Zimbabwe? So, what policy do we have to avoid panic buying and people from hoarding fuel? – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjection.] – There are people engaged in panic buying and are hoarding fuel to create artificial shortages.
HON. MUDYIWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority is out there to investigate the real causes of the panic buying – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjection.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order!
HON. MUDYIWA: Sooner or later, following our assurances that there is enough fuel in the country, the panic buying will disappear and a report from ZERA is being awaited on what is going on in the fuel market. Thank you.