Midlands Bureau Chief
Government should come up with legislation that makes it mandatory for service stations to sell fuel in both foreign and local currency in line with the prevailing exchange rate, motorists have said.
The dual pricing system, motorists say, would make it easy for people without access to foreign currency, especially the United States dollar, to also purchase fuel from any service station based on the prevailing rate. As of yesterday in Gweru, only foreign currency service stations had fuel, while pumps were dry at those selling in local currency. This has seen motorists without access to foreign currency, including the majority of public workers, parking their vehicles due to non-availability of fuel.
In June, Zera announced new fuel prices which saw petrol rising to $71,62 per litre from $28,96, while diesel went up to $62,77 from $24,93.
Zera said fuel could also be bought in hard currency, with prices set at US$1,28 and US$1,09 per litre for petrol and diesel respectively.
This publication observed that Zuva, Flo and Engen service stations in Gweru had the commodity but were only selling in US dollars. Total and others, which were accepting local currency, had dry pumps.
Mr Samuel Chakaipa from Mkoba 7 Suburb in Gweru said while it is common cause that service stations that sell in US dollars could have used their free funds to bring the product, the Government should spare a thought for people who do not earn foreign currency.
“I last fuelled my car at Total garage in the CBD and it’s three weeks since they received supplies. On the other hand, fuel sold in US dollars is available and there are no queues,” he said.
“If only we could be allowed to buy using local currency at the day’s prevailing interbank rate, we would be happy.”
Contacted for comment, National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOIC) chairperson Engineer Daniel Mackenzie Ncube concurred that there must be a law that compels service stations to implement dual pricing.
“We must see a pricing policy, which enables motorists to buy using swipe or any other form of payment using local currency at the prevailing interbank exchange rate.
“We are not saying service stations should run at a loss, no! We want dual pricing because we all don’t have access to foreign currency,” he said.
Last month, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) said fuel sellers should dually price the commodity.
“Oil marketing companies and retailers of petroleum products are also required to display, quote or offer prices for petroleum products in Zimbabwe dollar and in foreign currency as required by law,” said central bank governor Dr John Mangudya, adding that fuel companies that sell in US dollars should bank their hard currency.
“All foreign currency realised from the sale of petroleum products should be banked in the domestic foreign currency accounts which shall be subject to monitoring by the bank’s Exchange Control Division and the Financial Intelligence Unit.
“Banking of sales will assist the efficient replenishment of petroleum products in the market.”
But fuel companies appear to have ignored the calls, at least in respect of dual pricing.
Eng Ncube said service stations must be forced to indicate dual pricing, an instruction that must be enforced by Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera).
“There should be a legal instrument to compel the service stations to implement dual pricing for the benefit of all people who need fuel,” he said.
He said NOIC was also advocating for holding of two forex auctions per week to ensure that convergence of the local currency and US dollar happens quickly. This, he said, will ensure that players in the fuel industry will always be alert or aware of prevailing market rates and would not hide the commodity.