Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) has identified 57 service stations across the country that will sell fuel in local currency and eight of them are in Bulawayo.
The move will bring huge relief to motorists who were being forced to buy foreign currency on the black market to buy fuel as most garages are not accepting local currency.
The motoring public has been lobbying Government to avail fuel sold in local currency as most of them are paid in local currency.
This prompted President Mnangagwa to direct authorities to avail fuel sold in local currency. Government has since approved a US$15 million facility to pay for imports of fuel that will be sold in local currency.
Responding to written questions from Chronicle, Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) chief executive officer, Mr Edington Mazambani, said 57 fuel stations were targeted for the initial phase of the local currency fuel.
“The rollout of selling local currency priced fuel at specific service stations is in its preliminary stages. We are provisionally starting off with 57 service stations,” he said.
“The number may, however, increase or decrease based on how this pilot stage turns out.”
Mr Mazambani said the continuous supply of fuel in local currency was dependent on Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s allocation of foreign currency.
He also explained that the regulator will use a national fuel management system to ensure that service stations that get funds from the central bank do not divert it and prejudice motorists. “The availability of locally priced fuel relies solely on the allocation the service stations get during the RBZ auction of foreign currency,” said Mr Mazambani.
“As Zera, we have compliance checks and reconciliation exercises to ensure the beneficiaries of this facility do not abuse it and ensure availability of the locally priced fuel.”
The National Fuel Management system, which will be installed at all service stations that will be selling fuel in RTGS will serve to monitor all operations at the service station as it will be giving real time info on fuel quantities at any given time.
“This will ensure transparency and above-board operations,” said Mr Mazambani.
A close source said eight stations have been identified to sell fuel in local currency in Bulawayo and Engen is one of them.
“However, for other stations the list will be announced in due course as the programme is still being fine-tuned. It will be improper to identify service stations before all the modalities have been finalised. Some of them have not even received their allocations,” said a source privy to the information.
Engen Mzilikazi, Engen North End, Engen Nkulumane and Engen Magwegwe are some of the stations that would be selling fuel in local currency.
Contacted for comment, Association for Business in Zimbabwe (ABUZ) chief executive officer, Mr Victor Nyoni, said failure to access fuel in local currency was increasing the cost of production. “The Government is encouraging businesses to trade in multiple currencies. What it means is that our expenditure line cannot be one currency, the US dollar,” he said.
“So, we need to get it (fuel) in the local currency, which is the currency that is predominantly used by the industry.
That is the basis of the industry wanting to have fuel sold in Z$,” said Mr Nyoni.
He said most businesses were forced to buy foreign currency on the black market to buy fuel.–@nqotshili