Anger as fuel crisis enters second week; finance minister urges patience

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By Anna Chibamu

ZIMBABWE’S supply crisis continued this week with locals outraged at wasting productive hours in long queues amid anger as some outlets were reportedly only selling to those with coupons from companies that would have prepaid in foreign currency.

Ministers recently claimed that the country has enough stocks to last the next 18 months but the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has not been releasing the foreign currency required to pay suppliers.

Disgruntled Harare motorists complained in interviews with Tuesday about wasting time in long queues at the few filling stations with the product only to that they were only selling to those with prepaid coupons.

“The issue here is that government wants people to buy commodities using forex and yet they pay salaries in bond note. This is not fair,” fumed one Rukozhu.

“I am really disappointed with what we are experiencing right now. So, what do we do? I cannot afford to buy fuel in advance. I am not earning much and where do I get the forex from.”

Another motorist, Ropafadzo Mapimhidze added; “It’s really frustrating because we cannot even get to do our daily business except driving from one filling station to another looking for fuel.”

Asked about the crisis during with weekly media briefing after cabinet, finance minister Mthuli Ncube appealed for patience.

“We are aware of the hitches in the fuel supply market and this is largely due to do with the timings in terms of between payments and the supply of the commodity,” he said.

“The issue should be resolved in a few days. We need to be patient. I am happy to say enough measures on credit payments have been arranged and there are a few logistical issues before fuel is delivered.

“This last quarter of the year every year is within the time frame in terms of foreign currency shortage in the normal cycle of forex earnings for the country as we always have a bigger demand for forex.

“However, we are on top of it to raise enough forex for the fuel.”

In October, government announced it was in talks with Sakunda for a one billion litre deal of fuel, which would have beefed supplies for up to April 2020, with payment modalities being ironed out.

Sakunda Holdings is in a 51/49 percent joint venture between local business magnate Kudakwashe Tagwireyi and Singapore-based Trafigura International.