Harare — Zimbabwe is set for a new wave of public protests following a deepening economic crisis marked by closure of companies and skyrocketing prices of basic commodities, among them fuel.
This past weekend, President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a threefold increase in the price of fuel, a scarce commodity, to $3,11 a litre (R43,01) for diesel and $3,31 petrol (R45,9).
The prices are effective immediately.
Mnangagwa attributed the increases to persistent shortfalls in the fuel market, largely blaming rampant illegal currency and fuel trading activities.
"To curb continued misuse of fuel in the country, Government, through relevant departments which include its security structures, have started on a comprehensive audit of all fuel draw-downs with a view to establishing points of leakages," he said.
The hike comes amid a major company manufacturing basic commodities announcing its closure due to the scarcity of cash in the country.
Wilmar Group announced closure on Friday citing foreign currency deficits of US$11 million (R152,24 million) to service debts.
The country's largest beverage company, Delta Corporation, has threatened to shut down in the next three weeks if the economic situation did not improve.
The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) said the fuel increases would worsen the hardships of the poverty-stricken majority.
Zimbabwe battles unemployment estimated at 90 percent.
Nelson Chamisa, leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance, said the party would mobilise workers and party supporters to march against the rising cost of living.
Mnangagwa's government has struggled to live up to its pre-election pledges of resuscitating the economy.
His party - ZANU-PF blames sanctions for the crisis but critics blame mismanagement and rampant corruption.
Doctors and teachers have recently been on strike over the economic hardships afflicting the once-prosperous Southern African country.