Fuel queues resurface as minister blames protests for slow supplies

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By Kingston Ndabatei

ENERGY Minister Jorum Gumbo was left blaming recent anti-government protests although putting on a brave face Friday as fuel queues resurfaced amid rumours the prices of the scarce oil product could go up again.

A snap survey by showed long queues had started to form at service stations across Harare while most petroleum companies did not have the precious liquid.

But Gumbo said this could be temporary.

“It’s a logistical issue. There was a gap in payment issues but the situation will return to normal within the week,” Gumbo said in a telephone interview.

Sources said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) had failed to pay key suppliers.

“There is fuel in bonded warehouse at Msasa Depot but suppliers are yet to be paid.

“We could descend into fresh shortages again,” said a source in the industry.

Gumbo blamed recent anti-government protests for the slowdown in fuel supplies.

“The protests affected us. But we have been working on making sure the outlying areas outside the major centres have enough supplies and now the gap in paying suppliers resulted in slow deliveries. But we will be ok,” he said.

Zimbabwe has been facing a serious fuel problem since Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube’s unpopular October introduction of a 2 percent tax on all electronic transfers triggered a price upheaval which left incomes eroded.

The country descended into chaos after President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a 150% fuel price hike early last month, triggering violent protests that resulted in looting, vandalism and the killing of 12 people by the army, among other unfortunate incidents.