FUEL merchants this week accused the Petroleum Marketers Association of Zimbabwe (PMAZ) of investing over $1 billion received from merchants for fuel imports in call accounts thus exacerbating cu
rrent fuel shortages.
The PMAZ, an association of private petroleum products importing companies, receives the Zimbabwe dollar equivalent of nearly US$40 million worth of fuel needed monthly, while it is allocated the foreign currency component under an arrangement with the central bank.
The merchants say the PMAZ — investing the money in yet unknown institutions — had been exploiting the time lag between advance payment and delivery of the products, but this will drive them (fuel sellers) out of business.
“We understand the money is being invested on call accounts which delays the importation of fuel,” one fuel merchant told businessdigest this week.
“For instance, we are yet to receive fuel we paid for a fortnight ago and we are not sure when deliveries will take place when the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) released the foreign currency just after we paid.”
Much as the RBZ has been prompt in availing the foreign exchange, there have been delays in fuel inflows, which July Moyo’s Energy and Power Development ministry, PMAZ and the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) have been unable to explain. The PMAZ consortium uses Noczim infrastructure to deliver both petrol and diesel.
Gordon Musarira, the PMAZ chairman, declined to comment on the issue.
“I am not able to comment. Let your sources give you more information on that,” he said. Energy and Power Development ministry permanent secretary Justin Mupamhanga refused to comment, saying he was unaware of such a development.
“This (investment of money in market instruments) has not been brought to my attention,” he said.
Since its conversion into a special purpose vehicle, the PMAZ has encountered numerous problems ranging from logistical issues of moving fuel from various sources internationally and insufficient foreign cash from RBZ auction floors.
As the mudslinging over incessant fuel shortages continues, various parties including Noczim and individual players have been blamed for misusing foreign cash resources meant for fuel procurement.
Internal feuding, with indigenous merchants charging that the authorities have been favouring or giving priority to multinationals, has rocked the PMAZ itself. The local merchants say although deliveries have slightly improved, the situation is likely to deteriorate further if PMAZ is not largely reformed to enhance efficiency. The continual shortages of product has resulted in prices steadily rising to $4 300 per litre of petrol, while diesel has notched $4 400 a litre.