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Why there was panic buying of fuel in Zimbabwe

Deputy Energy Minister Tsitsi Muzenda said oil producers refused to sell fuel to retailers because they owed them huge sums of money resulting in panic buying as people thought the country had run out of fuel.

She said at the time, Zimbabwe had enough fuel to last the country a whole month.

Responding to a question from Senator Monica Mutsvangwa, Muzenda said: “One can safely say that although some of the retailers owed substantial sums of money to their fuel suppliers, the available fuel, both petrol and diesel would have taken us for another month.  The oil producers had refused to supply the retailers because they had not paid and that somehow leaked to the public.”

Q &A

HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA:  My question is directed to the Minister of Energy and Power Development. Just three weeks ago, there were queues and panic buying of fuel in the country which disrupted business in many ways and also caused a lot of price hikes on products and services.  How can the Hon. Minister assure this august House so that we can instill confidence in our constituents that it is not going to recur?  What had caused it? Why did it happen when there was no shortage?  How do you assure the public out there that it will not recur?

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER DEVELOPMENT (HON. SEN. MUZENDA):  Thank you Mr. President Sir. I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Mutsvangwa for the pertinent question.  You are very correct that the panic buying was really unwarranted for.  You will appreciate that because we have the so-called freedom of speech in Zimbabwe, something happened on the social media and that caused a lot of panic.  One can safely say that although some of the retailers owed substantial sums of money to their fuel suppliers, the available fuel, both petrol and diesel would have taken us for another month.  The oil producers had refused to supply the retailers because they had not paid and that somehow leaked to the public.  As the Hon. Sen. rightly pointed out, things were talked over and they understood each other.

I think in future, it is important for the Ministry to have its own social media or official mode of communication of the official position to the public – instead of people getting information from the social media.  I can therefore, safely say to the Hon. Senator, everything is on course in as far as fuel is concerned. That was the only hitch that the producers had refused to provide fuel to retailers because some of them owed them over a US$120 something and they wanted that paid.

Again, I appreciate the crisis that we are having of foreign currency.  Therefore, sometimes whilst every Ministry might want to be put on the priority list, sometimes it is not possible to do so – that was the problem.  I thank you.

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