‘Zim runs out of fuel’

ZIMBABWE Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) acting chief executive officer Eddington Mazambani yesterday revealed to Parliament that the country had exhausted the $60 million worth of fuel imported last week.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

“The $60 million foreign currency which was released for fuel has already been exhausted because it came when we were at zero in terms of fuel supplies,” Mazambani told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Energy on Thursday.

“The $60 million is about 100 million litres of fuel and it will be gone in about two-and-a-half weeks, and because we are at zero everyone wants to fill up their vehicles, and we do not know how much per week the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) allocates to oil companies.”

Mazambani said about $5 million is required daily and $35 million weekly for fuel supplies in the country.

“The demand has increased for both petrol and diesel from 1,5 million litres per day of petrol to 2,5 million litres, and 2,8 million litres of diesel to 4 million litres, and internationally the prices were high at $80 per barrel from $69,” he said.

Godfrey Ncube, Petrotrade chief executive, who made a presentation on behalf of the Forum for the Oil Industry, said: “The fuel situation is likely to remain a challenge as long as the fundamentals that drive the economy such as manufacturing and agriculture are not solved. We need foreign currency and seek government support to procure fuel.”

Ncube said RBZ was issuing out new letters of credit, but not settling legacy debts. He could not give the total debt, but said Petrotrade has a $2 million debt.

“I do not want to say that we are at zero in terms of fuel supplies as Petrotrade. We are receiving fuel, but at times there are gaps in terms of timing. As I speak now Petrotrade will receive fuel over the weekend, and so it is not like that fuel supplies have stopped,” Ncube said.

He later told journalists: “We have already started accessing fuel and we will have enough fuel during the festive season because the arrangements are there.”

Kuwadzana East MP Chalton Hwende (MDC Alliance) described Ncube’s presentation as vague, saying he was misleading the nation on the fuel situation.

“The minister is even cartooned because he is talking about fuel being available when it is bonded, and we need the truth because people are suffering waiting in fuel queues for two days. Last week we were told government made available $60 million for fuel. You are not telling us the truth,” Hwende said.

Mazambani’s statement that the country’s fuel supply was dire was later confirmed by the Indigenous Motor Industry Association of Zimbabwe whose representatives Farai Kunaka, Crosby Mashiri and Macleo Makoni.

“We only read in newspapers that $60 million has been disbursed for fuel supplies, and as indigenous fuel station owners, we ask ourselves if any one of our members got any supplies, and we find that no one got the fuel. So, the situation is very dire,” Kunaka said.

Mashiri said as an association they tried to source their own fuel, but they failed to settle $29 million in advance payment for the product.

“Right now we have 20 million litres stuck because of a $14 million payment that is needed. There are legacy debts that have not yet been paid,” Mashiri said.

Passmore Matupire, chairperson of the National Fuel Retail Sector, an affiliate of the Motor Industry Association of Zimbabwe, bemoaned the debilitating fuel situation.

Matupire said too many service stations were coming onto the market, adding that fuel players were making losses because they had a 6c margin per litre of petrol when their cost of doing business was at 11 cents per litre.