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New fuel body emerges

Chris Goko

REUBEN Marumahoko, Zimbabwe’s deputy Energy minister, says he is confident of a more stable and restructured fuel industry after overseeing the creati

on of a unified fuel procurement agency, the Petroleum Marketers of Zimbabwe (PMZ).

PMZ was formed out of the recent merger of the Indigenous Petroleum Marketers Group and the mainly multinational-dominated Petroleum Marketers Association of Zimbabwe.

The merger was carried out to obtain some measure of parity in fuel procurement and distribution, and this is part of government’s efforts to stabilise the oil sector.

Marumahoko said that although his ministry was greatly involved in setting up PMZ, it would maintain its independence and they had since approved a 13-member board for the new consortium.

“I am sure it (PMZ) will succeed because these are the big players in the sector,” he told businessdigest this week.

“We encouraged them to constitute a board and we are happy with the outcome. In the selection process, we looked at experience and other relevant aspects.”

Gordon Musarira, the Country Petroleum proprietor, chairs the PMZ board, which has six key sub-committees given as administration, allocation, audit and inspectorate, finance and procurement, legal and policy as well as special interest.

Among the key committees, Total’s Stan Hatendi heads administration with Chris Kwaramba of Pierefux Petroleum on the audit and inspectorate committee, Masimba Kambarami serving the legal and policy side and Wedzera’s Eric Nhodza heading the finance and procurement committee.

Royal Oil’s Chris Pasipamire is vice-chairman of PMZ while Robert Zhuwawo of Temisa has been assigned to the special interest committee, which presumably deals with empowerment and other pertinent issues.

PMZ has since appointed Muzi Ukwela as chief executive and Marumahoko said he was happy that the group had managed to bring into the country “relatively cheaper” fuel as well as maintain steady flows of the product.

He said that were it not for insufficient foreign cash resources, whereby the sector was getting less than US$10 million weekly, the fuel supply situation could easily get back to the pre-1999 level.

Zimbabwe consumes US$40 million worth of liquid fuels monthly, but weekly fuel allocations at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s foreign currency auctions have been averaging US$6-7 million.

Marumahoko stressed that government had no intention of delving into fuel procurement any more, meaning a proposed joint venture between private oil companies and the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) is imperilled.

“Government has no role to play in fuel procurement (for national retailing),” he said, adding fuel companies should have enough confidence to go it alone.

The deputy minister said Noczim would remain a bulk procurer for state departments and strategic stock holdings, and the level at which government was also involved in the fuel sector related to provision of storage facilities at its Msasa depot.

Marumahoko also said they had no intention to cancel as many as 100 operating licences because government was happy “with the number of licences out there”.

Meanwhile, a three-month tender and fuel supply system has been adopted albeit on a pilot basis.

According to Marumahoko, PMZ had identified one bulk procurer who would supply the country with the product. The tender could be reviewed at the end of the three-month period.

He said the PMZ and government were, however, hopeful of extending the supply period to half-a-year in order to put in place a more predictable and sustainable supply arrangement.

He stressed though, that the basis of awarding lengthy tenders was cheaper prices, proven competency in fuel supply and ability to work with the Zimbabwean authorities.

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