By Pauline Hurungudo
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s under-fire government on Wednesday held an emergency meeting over the country’s worsening fuel crisis.
The debilitating fuel shortages have now resulted in desperate calls from stressed business leaders who want authorities to allocate them special supplies to stop the country’s burning economy from imploding altogether.
Observations by the Daily News show that the fuel crisis has worsened since businesses and schools re-opened, following the end of the festive season break.
“Government is taking measures and we are having a meeting today (Wednesday) to address the issue,” permanent secretary in the ministry of Energy and Power Development, Gloria Magombo, told the Daily News.
At the same time, business leaders said the government needed to prioritise their needs, as companies were losing many precious hours of production due to the fuel shortages.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) president, Denford Mutashu, was among the business leaders who appealed to the government for fuel allocations, so that commerce and industry would not be incapacitated.
“Fuel shortages are affecting business badly … Trucks are spending more time in fuel queues than at the work station and many hours are being lost.
“On the other hand, employees are being affected in terms of movement … like yesterday (Tuesday), where there were few public service vehicles on the road,” Mutashu said.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president, Sifelani Jabangwe, said most companies had suspended deliveries of commodities and other key inputs such as raw materials, as the fuel crisis had deepened.
“The staff is losing productive time in fuel queues and we need to make deliveries, but we are failing to meet targets because of the prevailing crisis,” he said.
National Business Council of Zimbabwe (NBCZ) president, Langton Mabhanga, challenged the government to take measures to end the crisis.
“Fuel is a critical cog … thus the current shortages represent the trashing of many productive hours by relegating millions of economically active human capital to stalking fuel queues,” Mabhanga said.
This week, many passengers have been struggling to get transport to and from work, as well as other destinations, as a result of the worsening fuel problems.
This, coupled with steep transport fares, has left thousands of commuters stranded — forcing many people to hitch precarious rides on lorries and pick-up trucks.
Instead of plying their routes regularly, most commuter omnibus and long distance buses are spending endless and often fruitless hours queuing for diesel at the country’s dry fuel stations.
Zimbabwe has been struggling to pay foreign suppliers of fuel and other commodities due to its dire financial position which economists say has been worsened by corruption and mismanagement.
The country requires between 120 million and 140 million litres of fuel every month, with diesel making up the bulk of fuel used by industry.
According to the government, Zimbabwe now requires on average US$100 million per month to cater for its fuel imports. Daily News