Fuel shortages: Is history repeating itself?

HARARE - Fuel shortages, which resurfaced this week, have served to underline the precarious nature and position of Zimbabwe’s economy.

There is trepidation among motorists and industrialists that the shortages could have a ripple effect on the economy and where diesel is the main driver of the country’s ailing industries.

Many service stations are reporting limited supplies of diesel.

This has seen fuel retailers introducing limits on purchases, while some are only accepting prepaid cards for petrol and diesel — despite the panicking government’s vacuous assurances that the situation is under control.

“...oil companies have been failing to access their money for fuel importation owing to foreign currency shortages which we are experiencing as a country. There is no need to panic or to be alarmist because the situation is under control,” Energy permanent secretary Partson Mbiriri claimed earlier this week.

We have travelled this road before and where government assurances have proved to be just a lot of hot air ahead of full-blown crises.

At the height of President Robert Mugabe’s chaotic land reform programme, Agriculture minister Joseph Made took the skies — in a propaganda blitz to disprove warnings that Zimbabwe was facing serious grain shortages — and said his aerial assessments after a helicopter ride that there was enough grain to last the country another season.

But weeks later, Zimbabwe began experiencing acute grain and food shortages.

As such, there is every reason to be worried about Mbiriri’s reassurances, given our government’s chequered history that has also seen other basic commodities flooding the black market following its ill-advised decision to ban imports.

Every Zimbabwean has a reason to be very afraid because the economic meltdown of 2008, which led to hyperinflation and shortages of fuel — including basic consumer goods — began on a similar course.

Government has got to demonstrate that it is capable of averting a national crisis such as the one unfolding before us.

As it is, we also know that the problem could be emanating from Zimbabwe’s depleted nostro account and no one needs to be a rocket scientist to see that the precarious balance of payment systems have compounded the situation.

Therefore, it is clear to all and sundry that without enough foreign currency it would be difficult to import critical things such as pharmaceutical goods and fuel.

History could be repeating itself here.

And government is acting as if it’s in control when it clearly is not.

Comments (1)

How can this corrupt government be in control.They are only able to add further to the destruction of the country's economy by their useless policies which do not work(introducing bond notes etc).The people in government have long seized to use their medula

jonah chiwara - 27 October 2016

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