ENERGY minister Joram Gumbo says Zimbabwe has adequate fuel stocks, despite the reemergence of queues, and blamed social media for causing panic among motorists.
BY OBEY MANAYITI/TATIRA ZWINOIRA
Fuel queues, which had disappeared over the past two weeks after a month of turmoil in October, reappeared last week, with most service stations running dry over the weekend. Gumbo told NewsDay that consumption had risen to four million litres of diesel and 3,1 million litres of petrol a day, and blamed foreign currency shortages for the current shortages.
“The stocks are there, but as you know, they will be in bondage in Mabvuku and Msasa. Pumping from Beira hasn’t stopped, but the issue is that to access fuel, you need forex and that is not my department’s role,” he said.
He said the amount of fuel pumped from the Mabvuku and Msasa depots was much higher than the usual consumption.
“If you check the quantities that are picked at Mabvuku and Msasa, they will surpass the figures I have mentioned, so where is the fuel going? As I am talking to you right now, [Independent Petroleum Group] IPG only gave us a facility of five million litres a week, on top of the Sakunda facility. This is also complemented by that bought with the assistance of the [Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe] RBZ for other companies. This should be enough,” he said.
It has also emerged that Zimbabwe has the sixth and ninth cheapest petrol and diesel prices per litre, respectively, in the world due to the mismatch between real time gross settlement (RTGS) balances, bond notes and mobile money against the greenback.
As of today, official fuel prices will be $1,34 and $1,30 per litre of petrol and diesel, respectively, translating to $0,382 and $0,371 when factoring in the parallel market rate of USD1:$3,5 in RTGS balances, bond notes and mobile money.
According to the American fuel tracking website, GlobalPetrolPrices, Venezuela is selling petrol at $0,01 per litre, making them the cheapest in the world due to its large oil reserves, followed by Sudan at $0,13, Iran $0,29, Kuwait $0,35, and Algeria $0,35.
In terms of the price of diesel per litre, Venezuela is selling it at no charge followed by Iran $0,07, Sudan $0,09, Saudi Arabia $0,13, Algeria $0,19, Ecuador $0,27, Egypt $0,31, and Azerbaijan $0,35.
Zimbabwe Chamber of Commerce president Tamuka Macheka said those with access to the US$ and those in neighbouring countries were taking advantage of the mismatch between US$ and the RTGS to buy fuel at extremely low prices.
“Our fuel import bill has jumped to unbelievable levels over the past few months, if we just look at the amount of fuel we are importing, but all that fuel is not going to our domestic consumption here. Part of that fuel, now, is going across the borders because it has become so cheap to get fuel from Zimbabwe; one of the cheapest in the world,” Macheka said.
“Somebody will just come from Zambia or Mozambique and change a few United States dollars and make a transfer, then get huge quantities of fuel, so Zimbabwe has now become the cheapest source of fuel. People are now using Zimbabwe to get their fuel in the regional neighbourhood.”