By Blessings Mashaya
The Nelson Chamisa-led MDC has scoffed at the shock move by Energy minister Joram Gumbo to impose a blanket ban on the use of jerry cans and other metal containers at fuel service stations.
The MDC branded the move “insane and mind-boggling”.
“He makes this declaration in a misdirected attempt to combat hoarding of fuel when the government last week claimed that there is enough for everyone,” MDC spokesperson Jacob Mafume said.
“Such a contradiction! Isn’t it ironic that the government now spends all its time regulating consumption when the role of the State is to improve aggregate demand and collect revenue to fund the social agenda?
“Are the people selling fuel not supposed to be in business, which is dependent on the level of volumes they push? Why is fuel running out in the first place and why are there long, winding queues?
“These are the questions that the government must answer in order to find a lasting solution. Certainly, the answers to these questions are not in the use or ban of a jerry cans.”
This comes as motorists are queuing for hours to buy fuel following a shortage of the commodity which the government has blamed on panic-buying.
Gumbo told State media that he was moving to issue a directive to service stations to stop serving people who come with jerry cans, drums and other fuel containers as this was contributing to “artificial” shortages of the commodity.
Government has claimed strong demand and logistical challenges have also led to the shortages.
Gumbo also warned service stations that if they demanded foreign currency, their licences were going to be withdrawn.
“Those using tanks, drums and jerry cans, all those forms of containers should stop and we are sending out inspectors and the Zimbabwe Republic Police and if anybody is going to be found maybe overcharging or using drums they might have their licences withdrawn.
“We are not going to allow that,” Gumbo said.
“We also had to warn some of the companies that we heard were demanding forex for fuel because it’s not their responsibility because the forex that we use to buy fuel from Msasa or Mabvuku or international companies is sourced by government.
“So, there is no point in any individual company demanding payment for fuel in foreign currency and some of them saying they were only serving clients with coupons from their companies. That should not happen.”
The MDC said the current crisis is a result of fiscal mismanagement manifesting itself in a monetary crisis worsened by the bond note “introduced for the sole purpose of monetising Zanu PF’s unbudgeted expenditure”.
“The bond note and other forms of money introduced to finance the gap created distortions in the market and increased the price of the US dollar.
“With government expenditure and the hunger to spend money offline still unabated, funds to import fuel are simply unavailable hence the crisis.
“The laws of demand and supply can never be fixed by fuel container solutions. More importantly, the crisis is a crisis of bad leadership and loss of confidence by the citizenry therefore the government’s intention to advice citizens on how to spend falls on deaf ears,” Mafume said. Daily News