By Kuda Bwititi
A new fleet of buses that will serve urban and rural commuters will be commissioned this week, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.
He said this at State House yesterday during a special Independence Day interview which the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) will broadcast this week.
The new buses are expected to complement the current Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) fleet.
“I think by the Independence Day on the 18th, two days before, on the 16th or 15th, I should be launching new buses which are coming in.
“We saw that during the disturbances, these kombis were taking advantage of the suffering people, raising prices left, right and centre.
“Of course, we then instructed Zupco come in, but we have now decided to bring in new buses to provide both urban and rural transport with regulated prices that are fair and just giving enough remuneration to run the buses,” he said.
The wanton price hikes, he added, showed that business were out to get “super profits”.
But he noted that his administration does not believe in price controls.
The President said: “With regard to the issue of prices I made an appeal two days ago to our compatriots in industry and commerce that prices are coming up but there is no justification in any way why the prices are coming up.
“It’s just a question of perception, fear of the unknown that we want to cushion ourselves today for possible challenges tomorrow.
“We don’t think that is the way we should operate. Last time we had the same phenomenon of prices just being increased and I asked captains of industry to come and meet me here as State House.
“We do not want to go to a situation where Government is forced to regulate on prices. I am against the regulation of prices.”
The current fuel supply gaps in the market, said President Mnangagwa, were being caused by the disproportionate rise in demand for the commodity, which, however, wasn’t matched by corresponding increases in export receipts.
“Our fuel consumption is now at two-and-half-times (more) from the time we started the Second Republic.
“We used to have consumption of about 2,1 million litres a day. So we are now at 4,6 or 4, 9 million per day. So the volumes have more than doubled in terms of diesel; the same with petrol.
“But at the same time, our foreign receipts have not doubled.
‘‘We only have a 26 or 27 percent increase in our foreign receipts, foreign currency earnings.
“So there is a mismatch between our foreign currency earnings with the demand. That has come as a result of opening up the economy and opening up business in this country.
“Time will come when industry and commerce will be exporting more and more and the supply side and demand side will match. Time will come, but at this stage there is a mismatch.
“We have to go through those things and it’s a challenge that we are facing. I am happy that at least we are able to meet up to 80 to 85 percent of the fuel needs in the country,” he said. The Sunday Mail