A US$15 million facility has been approved by Government to pay for imports of fuel that will be sold in local currency by service stations starting at the end of this month.
The fuel will be available to all those who want to access it, according to an instruction President Mnangagwa has given to the Ministry of Energy and Power Development.
Most fuel at present is sold in foreign currency, with imports done through free funds, largely the foreign currency paid by users.
There were modest imports using foreign currency auction funds, with some cheating and selling this in foreign currency, but few have been bidding recently for auction funds for fuel, hence the need for the direct Government action.
Last month, the energy sector regulator, the Zimbabwe Energy Regulation Authority (Zera), flighted an advert inviting fuel station owners and distributors who wished to participate in supplying fuel in local currency.
So far, 57 fuel station owners and distributors have responded and the first tranche of 15 distributors and fuel station owners is now working with Zera and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on modalities to ensure that the facility is water tight.
Acting Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Jenfan Muswere confirmed the development yesterday.
According to details made available, the Zimbabwe dollar fuel facility will also be extended to State-owned enterprises and strategic Government contracts for roads and dams construction.
The ministry has already developed some of the modalities and frameworks in monitoring the implementation of the Zimbabwe dollar fuel scheme.
They include that all fuel companies should have the national fuel management system installed, that designated service stations should sell in local currency only and Zera will monitor and analyse the specific supplier, including banking transactions.
Companies are also expected to submit weekly returns to Zera, and ensure that service stations selling fuel in local currency are advertised in the print and electronic media.
Companies participating in the facility must have at least three service stations in different provinces.
Containers are banned for the Zimbabwe dollar fuel, which will prevent people buying in local currency and selling in foreign currency.
The participating companies will be barred from uplifting fuel from the National Oil Infrastructure Company depots before reconciling the previous allocation.
Hefty penalties will be applied on companies that fail to account for proper application of fuel sold in local currency.
Fielding questions from backbenchers in the National Assembly on Wednesday, Dr Muswere said the framework was being developed, which will see Zera working closely with the Reserve Bank and fuel suppliers and distributors to come up with a list which will then be published by the Ministry of Energy and Power Development.
Responding to a question from Buhera South legislator, Cde Joseph Chinotimba (Zanu PF), who wanted to know how soon the facility would be ready, Dr Muswere said: “What I would like to assure him and this House is that before the end of this month, the Zimbabwean dollar fuel facility will be fully functional.”