Patrick Chitumba, 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 US dollar, to also purchase fuel from any service station based on the rate of the day.
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 who include a majority of public workers, parking their vehicles due to non-availability of fuel.
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 its people who do not earn in local currency.
“I last fuelled my car at Total garage in the CBD and it has been three weeks now they haven’t received supplies. On the other hand, fuel sold in US dollars is very 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 also said there must be a law that compelled service stations to implement dual pricing.
As it stands, Eng Ncube said dual pricing using the interbank rate of the day should be considered for ordinary people without access to foreign currency.
“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.
Eng Ncube said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe must intervene and announce or give a directive on the issue of dual pricing.
He 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,” said Eng Ncube.
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.
“Two rates in a week will mean that players are aware of the interbank and black-market rates and that means convergence will happen fast,” he said.
Acting chief executive officer of Zera, Mr Eddington Mazambani, had not responded to questions sent to him over the issue.