BY RICHARD CHIDZA/OBEY MANAYITI
HARARE and most parts of the country are on the verge of running dry as fuel queues have re-emerged, with motorists forced into panic-buying of the precious liquid.
Queues are visible almost everywhere, with some filling station operators saying they last received deliveries two weeks ago.
“We have had no deliveries for almost two weeks now. We are in near-crisis. The situation could degenerate if nothing is done.
There is little explanation, but the reality is there is no money to pay. There is no foreign currency,” NewsDay heard.
Energy ministry permanent secretary Patson Mbiriri, however, sought to allay fears of a possible fuel crisis, but admitted forex shortages were to blame.
“We have sufficient fuel stocks in the country. These are bonded though. We need nostro dollars or foreign currency to redeem them,” he said yesterday.
NewsDay also heard that the process of blending could be creating bottlenecks in the fuel value chain.
“The government has issued an order to have all fuel coming into the country blended first. That is creating havoc because of capacity issues.
There are delays in the blending process and that is also responsible for the ‘artificial’ shortages in the market,” an insider said.
There are also unsubstantiated claims that the government has moved the blending of fuel to Chisumbanje in the Lowveld, making it even more expensive for fuel importers.
But Mbiriri dismissed the claims.
“No such order has been issued by the government. The economy needs more nostro dollars. This holds true for every import. We, as an economy, must export more in order to earn more foreign currency. To me, that is the bottom line,” he said.
Zimbabwe has been struggling with a liquidity crunch that is worsening with each passing day. The government last year introduced a surrogate currency, known as bond notes, and pegged them at the same value as the United States dollar, as the greenback disappeared from the market.
The move has not helped, but, instead, a parallel currency market has emerged, with different values for the US dollar and bond notes.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya also said there was no fuel shortage in the country.
“The fuel is there in Masasa. It is there in Mabvuku and, therefore, it must be paid for first and distributed.
We allocate fuel every week,” he said while revealing that money realised from mining revenue was being channelled towards the procurement of fuel.
“What you need to know is that all companies dealing in fuel don’t export. Money comes from gold, tobacco, platinum and others and when we export, we now use the money to import the fuel. There is no fuel shortage. Where did you get that?”
When asked to explain the long queues that had surfaced, Mangudya said: “We haven’t seen those queues, but we shall make sure that after this meeting, we will go and investigate.”
He also said it was wrong for service stations to refuse plastic money, describing that as indiscipline that must be dealt with.