Government is working on a financial arrangement to ensure adequate fuel supplies during the festive season and plans to deal decisively with black market fuel traders who pose a serious risk to human life, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa has said.
She said Government wanted the law to decisively deal with people posing danger to human life and property by selling fuel illegally in open spaces near fuel stations.
Minister Mutsvangwa made the remarks while briefing journalists on decisions taken by Cabinet after its 11th sitting at Munhumutapa Government Offices in Harare yesterday.
"Cabinet received a brief on the fuel supply situation in the country from the Minister of Energy and Power Development (Dr Joram Gumbo)," she said.
"Cabinet noted that although fuel supply challenges on the market were still persisting, the situation is gradually improving when compared to the previous week. Cabinet was also assured that financing arrangements are being put in place, on the basis of which the country will have adequate fuel supplies during the coming festive season," said Minister Mutsvangwa.
"Cabinet, however, noted with concern that some unscrupulous individuals were purchasing and reselling fuel in jerry cans at extortionate prices in close proximity to fuel stations.
"This practice poses a high risk to the general public, considering the inflammable nature of petroleum fuel. Further, some of the fuel being sold from jerry cans is contaminated and may therefore damage vehicles.
"Cabinet, accordingly, directed the relevant law and order maintenance arms of the State to resolutely stamp out this practice so as to prevent possible loss of lives and destruction of property," she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said Cabinet also received a report on the strike by some junior doctors. It was noted that the industrial action did not follow procedures outlined in the country's labour laws.
"Cabinet nonetheless noted that a number of the issues of concern to the junior doctors and other health professionals were already being addressed by Government and as such, urges the striking doctors to respect the sanctity of human life and return to work. Cabinet directed the Minister (of Health and Child Care) to continue engaging the doctors with a view to resolving their concerns," said Minister Mutsvangwa.
In his submissions during the briefing, Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo urged the junior doctors to go back to work while dialogue continued.
"We are happy to also note that Treasury has responded favourably in as far as some of the issues are concerned. For instance, the issue of vehicle loans. The Minister of Finance has indicated that before the end of the year the balance of $6 million will be released, which is a good move," said Dr Moyo.
"At the same time there is an issue regarding unfreezing of posts. Treasury has equally unfrozen at least 402 posts. Government deals with the Ministry of Health in toto. At the end of the day we want to see the doctors coming back to work. We as a Ministry we have been lucky in that Cabinet managed to secure a total of US$25 million as arranged through Treasury for the benefit of getting the essential medications which we know are very relevant for our members of staff to be able to work in a conducive environment in the health institutions," he said.
"Surgical sundries, we are waiting delivery of such and it cannot happen overnight. It is something which has to be done over a period of time. I am also glad to advise that we have received a further US$2,5 million worth of medicines through our NatPharm and we have advised NatPharm to quickly distribute these medicines to our health institutions."