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Zimbabweans react to 143% increase in fuel prices

by Staff reporter
13 Jan 2019 at 08:05hrs | Views
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa last night announced new prices for petrol and diesel, effective midnight.

"With effect from midnight tonight, a fuel pump price of $3.11 per litre for diesel and $3.31 per litre for petrol will come into effect. These prices are predicated on the ruling official exchange rate of 1:1 between the bond note and the US dollar and also on the need to keep fuel retailers viable," Mnangagwa said at State House in Harare.

Before the increase, diesel cost $1.38 a litre, and petrol $1.43 a litre.

The announcement has brought mixed reactions. Here we give you reactions from some opinion leaders across the political and social divides.

"The correct price should be $4. 55 per liter for both otherwise the queues will continue," said Hopewell Chin'ono, an award winning journalist, documentary film maker.

Chin'ono, who bagged the 2008 CNN African journalist of the year award, added: "This (fuel price increase) should have been followed immediately by floating the Bond Note, otherwise this patch work will resolve nothing.

"The shortage in fuel in Zimbabwe right now was due to a low price which didn't match the importation cost due to the pegged rate. So we were not able to restock."

Former Minister of Commerce and Industry Welshman Ncube, who is the MDC-A Vice President, said: "Who would have thought it possible that any government in Zimbabwe could be worse than that of Robert Gabriel Mugabe.

"Surely by now it must be abundantly clearly even to the most intellectually ungifted that a condition sine qua non (condition precedent) of Zimbabwe's progress is the removal from power of ZANUPF in all its manifestations either as a civilian formation or quasi military entity."

Melusi Nkomo, an academic, said the new prices were still normal considering the bond note is in real terms not equivalent to the US dollar.

He urged "fear-mongers" to stop pretending they were unaware that ful was costing less than a litre of bottled water in Zimbabwe.

Nkomo said: "Bond$3.11=US$1.04. Bond$3.31=US$1.10. In US dollar terms it's still normal pricing for fuel in Zimbabwe. Fear mongers should stop."

Opposition MDC-A leader Nelson Chamisa: "Fellow Zimbabweans, we acknowledge and understand that we have a national crisis, which is descending into a humanitarian crisis.

"We believe this crisis requires all hands on the deck. We will lead and stand ready to play a key role in finding a lasting solution."

Constitutional lawyer Alex T Magaisa said the increase in fuel prices without a corresponding increase in wages will erode earnings and trigger unrest.

"Fuel price increases without wage increases can only mean one thing: wages and savings have been totally eroded. Prices will rise. The first sign is workers will not be able to go to work. You solve one problem but open up another. It's a calamity."

Magaisa added that the problem was politics, not the economy. "Solve the politics! Problem is politics, not the economy. It's a calamity. Solve the politics!"

"Let's brace for tough times," lawyer Fadzayi Mahere said. "Sadly, once the fuel price goes up officially, the cost of transport, labour and other basic goods will automatically go up as well."

Fuel queues have worsened in Zimbabwe since the start of the new year. The demand for fuel intensified this week with the start of the new school term this week.

Mnangagwa said some were bent on taking advantage of the current fuel shortages to cause and sponsor unrest and instability in the country.

"Such politically motivated activities will not be tolerated," he said, indicating that the country's military would be on the lookout to curb the misuse of the fuel.

An increase in the price of fuel is likely to spark a further hike in the prices of goods and services.

The President added that tourists, foreign missions, NGOs and other foreign bodies will be able to buy fuel at designated points at US$1.32 per liter of petrol and US$1.24/L per liter of diesel.

"Guests of Government by way of foreign missions and other registered foreign bodies, and tourists will fuel and refuel at designated points at the price cf US$1,24 per litre for diesel, and US$2,32 per litre for petrol, upon production of proper identification documents," he said.

On salaries adjustment for civil servants, he said: "Government is putting in place a package of measures to cushion its workers, until a full review of Cost of-Living Adjustment package due in April 2019 is effected, in the context of the current budget."

He ended by warning "certain elements bent on sponsoring unrest and instability": "Government is aware of attempts by certain elements bent on taking advantage of the current fuel shortages to cause and sponsor unrest and instability in the country.

"Such politically motivated activities will not be tolerated. 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. Where criminal conduct is apparent, the law will take its course."

Source - online