ZIMBABWE’S two fuel procurement agencies, the Indigenous Petroleum Marketers Group (IPMG) and Petroleum Marketers Association of Zimbabwe (PMAZ), have been merged as part of government measu
res to stabilise the sector, which has been problematic for six years, businessdigest can reveal.
Rueben Marumahoko, the deputy Energy minister, on Wednesday confirmed the amalgamation, saying it was necessary to build uniformity in fuel procurement and retailing as well as goodwill in the sector.
“The groups (IPMG and PMAZ) were merged a few weeks ago and this was done to level the field in procurement between larger and small companies,” Marumahoko said. He expressed optimism that the centralisation of operations would eliminate problems dogging fuel imports in the country.
He said Zimbabwe had been able to build on consistent supplies and distribution of fuel lately because the consortiums were cooperating in many areas, among them resource mobilisation and tapping from almost similar oil sources, as opposed to the “fragmented system” prior to the merger.
IPMG and PMAZ, meanwhile, will retain their names, although they have started holding joint meetings.
Masimba Kambarami, a PMAZ member, confirmed the merger, while board chairman of the combined group Gordon Musarira could not be reached for comment on how exactly the entity would function.
However, people with knowledge of changes in the sector said further reforms were in the offing, with the government planning to reclassify fuel import-licence holders.
The companies, it has been learnt, would be categorised into those with requisite infrastructure such as service stations, and those with little or no assets at all.
Of the country’s 107 registered dealers, 95% could lose their operating licences, sources said.
“A number of fuel importers have emerged and especially over the last two years to capitalise on the country’s perennial fuel shortages.
“Closely analysed, a majority of them (import licence beneficiaries) have no meaningful investment in the sector so much so that they have been fingered in speculative trade. It is in that vein that a probe has been called on whether the country needs more licences,” the sources said.
While confirming possible reorganisation of the licencing aspect in the sector, Marumahoko would not substantiate claims that there would be licence cancellations altogether. Energy minister July Moyo could not be reached for comment as he is on leave.
It has since been suggested only 10 import licences would be issued, with a significant number of losing licence holders being compressed into four fuel procurement consortiums while the other six licences would be held by the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim), the IPMG/PMAZ group and a selected few.
Other than narrowing the band of oil sector players, aggressive affirmative action polices have also been suggested where established multinational oil companies would cede a significant portion of their assets to emerging companies.