Zimbabwe: RBZ Releases Funds to Ease Fuel Shortage

20 February 2020

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has provided funds to enable oil companies access fuel stocks that were already in the country, but needing payment to be released. Deliveries to service stations were expected to improve from today.

This was said by acting Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) chief executive Mr Eddington Mazambani in an interview on the sidelines of the 16th annual general meeting of the Regional Energy Regulators Association of Southern Africa (RERA) underway in Victoria Falls.

"True, there have been some constraints regarding, one, logistical arrangements, and two, funding arrangements, which have now since been addressed through the Reserve Bank and we are made to believe that uplifting of fuel will improve starting probably tomorrow (today)," said Mr Mazambani.

"There have been allocations to some indigenous fuel companies which we expect will result in improving availability. The indigenous companies are many in number and their reach is wider than the big oil companies. We expect that the fuel situation will improve as the week progresses."

Fuel shortages have resulted in long queues at service stations.

Cashing in on the shortage, black market dealers were charging up to $50 a litre, more than double the approved price.

Many kombis are in fuel queues, prompting the few operators on the road to increase fares claiming they were buying fuel from the black market.

Zupco buses are operating, but the fleet is grossly inadequate with conductors allowing in more standing passengers and in some cases desperate commuters are climbing onto bus roofs to get a ride.

Mr Mazambani said going forward, fuel availability would stabilise as the RBZ was working on long-term measures to deal with the supply side.

He said the 2020 Monetary Policy Statement announced on Monday allowed people with access to foreign currency to import fuel directly on their own to sell to motorists with foreign currency.

"At the moment, as Zera, we are crafting regulations to ensure that arrangement is up to life. Very soon we will be publicising outlets which are allowed to sell in foreign currency. And that on its own will relieve pressure of sourcing fuel because those with foreign currency will get their own fuel and sell in foreign currency and the Reserve Bank will cater for the general public who have no access to foreign currency. So availability should definitely improve," said Mr Mazambani.

Energy and Power Development Minister Fortune Chasi, who was in Victoria Falls to officially open the RERA AGM and conference, said the Government was working tirelessly to address the shortages.

"We are always in the mode to deal with shortages of fuel. Actually, you understand the genesis of our fuel shortages, which is heavily linked to shortages of foreign currency.

"As a result, until such a time we have foreign currency sufficiency, it makes sense to say we have some level of shortages of fuel which is consistent with the available foreign currency.

"I said there shall be light in Zimbabwe. We will come to a time when we have plenty of supplies into the country," he said.

Minister Chasi said there were many things that had to be addressed, including the supply chain.

"The issue of the capacity of our financial sector to provide sufficient Letters of Credit to enable us to import as much as we can with what we have needs to be addressed. So it's a huge mix of issues that we have."

In Harare, there were occasional deliveries to Zuva and Puma service stations that sell in local currency, but queues could be measured by the kilometre.

Even filling stations licensed to sell in foreign currency had fairly long queues.

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