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Police probe Noczim

Itai Dzamara

SENIOR officials at the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) are under investigation for leaking fuel onto the parallel market and selling the commodity above the prices gazetted by governm

ent, it was established yesterday.

Sources said Noczim was in turmoil with reports that chief executive officer Webster Muriritirwa abruptly resigned at the end of last month under unclear circumstances. He is reported to have taken a job in Libya.

Energy ministry sources said the probe at Noczim was aimed at curbing corruption and improving fuel supplies to public transporters and government departments.

The sources said President Robert Mugabe ordered the investigation after persistent complaints that “the small supplies trickling into the country were not being adequately accounted for”.

It is understood the Zimbabwe Republic Police was closing in on Noczim officials while ruling party and government officials are also implicated in the scam.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed yesterday that investigations into Noczim over fuel corruption were under way.

“Yes, we are conducting intensive operations to fish out people engaging in corruption,” Bvudzijena said. “Although we haven’t arrested any high-ranking officials, we will not spare anyone. The operation will not spare anyone, right across the board, be it at Noczim or in government,” he said.

Last week police arrested Zanu PF MP Saviour Kasukuwere’s brother Stanley who owns Comoil oil company for allegedly selling fuel at prices above those stipulated by government.

Sources however said the Noczim corruption saga was too hot for the police as it involved senior government officials.

“There are several high-ranking government officials who have been looting the Noczim fuel for resale on the parallel market,” said a Noczim source.

“As has been the norm in this country, the issue becomes difficult to properly address.”

Fuel supplied by government for its departments is also being abused, with reports of widespread corruption along the delivery chain.

Energy minister Amos Midzi this week expressed irritation over the allegations of graft. “Do you have any evidence yourselves?” he demanded to know. “I would greatly appreciate anyone with tips on how this is happening. We would seriously deal with those found guilty of that (corruption),” he said.

“They will be brought to book.”

Announcing the deregulation of the fuel sector last week, Midzi said Noczim would continue selling fuel to public transporters and government departments at $450 a litre for petrol and $200 for diesel.

Private fuel dealers were given permission to import and retail petrol at $1 170 a litre and diesel at $1 070.

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