20 January 2019

Zimbabwe: Minister Distances Self From Fuel Crisis

Photo: The Herald
Energy and Power Development Minister Joram Gumbo.

Energy and Power Development minister Joram Gumbo yesterday said his ministry was doing its part bringing plenty of fuel into the country but government, through the Finance ministry, was failing to buy the fuel which belonged to international players.

In an interview with The Standard yesterday, Gumbo said it was not his ministry's fault that the country was failing to pay for the fuel that his ministry managed to bring into the country. There were massive stocks of fuel in the country, he said, but it was not for free and had to be paid for.

He said the Finance ministry, through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), was facing an insurmountable task in sourcing foreign currency to pay for the precious liquid which is already in the country but was bonded in warehouses.

Gumbo also said although petrol and diesel were available and in abundance at the Msasa and Mabvuku depots, it belonged to international companies until payment was made.

"RBZ governor (John) Mangudya has always been telling you that he needs so much money to buy fuel. I have always maintained my position that fuel is available in the country but it can only be accessed upon production of foreign currency," Gumbo said.

"My role as minister of energy is to make sure that I talk about a facility, that is why you find I say I have spoken to Trafigura, I have spoken to Independent Petroleum Group (IPG) to make facilities that bring in fuel in the country, but those companies bring in the fuel in the country and when they do that it's on bond."

A survey by The Standard yesterday showed that fuel queues had more than doubled since the festive season.

"My role is to bring the fuel into the country and it is there but the problem is, I don't even blame Mangudya per-se, but our economy is not performing. As it is not performing, there is no inflow of foreign currency into the country to enable the payment for this fuel," Gumbo said.

"Mangudya's role as the RBZ governor or any bank for that matter is not to go about looking for forex, but to keep the forex that companies will have made through exports. They keep it and dish it out later and that is what the process is all about and that is what should be done."

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