Govt urged to liberalise fuel sector to end shortages

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By Leopold Munhende

ACTING Petrotrade chief executive officer Godfrey Ncube says the liberalisation of the fuel sector was the best way the country could deal with endless fuel shortages that have seen motorists queue for days for the precious liquid throughout the country.

Giving oral evidence before parliament’s Energy and Power Development Committee Thursday, Ncube said the current situation could only be solved if suppliers and retailers could be allowed to buy and sell the product in US dollars.

“Let me just be clear here, I did not specifically say government should now let companies do what they want, buy fuel whichever way they can.

“All I said was that under these circumstances, the model that can also be adopted and can work is that the sector can be liberalised and companies allowed to look for their own fuel.

“Companies are in business and if they are told to look for their own fuel, they will look for that money.”

Ncube warned his proposal could however result in hiking of prices of goods and services as usually happens when there are increases in prices.

He added: “However, prices will rise and that is not favourable for government and it will be difficult, government is still subsiding fuel.

“If the situation continues to deteriorate like this, it will be better that government adopts a liberalised system, liberalised in terms of procurement.

“…As far as procurement is concerned, you will realise that you would have liberalised the pricing of it.”

Ncube told the Joel Gabuza chaired committee that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s (RBZ) foreign exchange auction was failing to benefit fuel dealers who were being forced to charge prices that could mean most of them were running losses.

Zimbabwe has been facing intermittent fuel shortages since the scrapping of a multi-currency system by government in 2019.

The system had been sustained since 2009 when government officially dumped the national currency for a basket of foreign ones.

Not all suppliers are allowed to trade in US dollars while those granted licenses to do so can only sell at particular filling stations.