Govt dispatches SOS delegation as? Fuel woes deepen

Staff Writer

GOVERNMENT is today expected to dispatch a high-powered delegation to South Africa, Angola and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in search of fuel as the crisis which has gripped the country for fo

ur years refuses to go away.




Official sources said the delegation comprising government, banking and National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) officials was expected to leave this morning for South Africa before proceeding to Angola and the UAE where it hopes to clinch new fuel deals to ease the deepening crisis.


Yesterday Energy and Power Development minister Amos Midzi was locked in a critical meeting at Parliament Building with all senior Noczim managers under the auspices of the secretive National Security Council.

The agency supposedly deals with issues of national importance.


Midzi could not comment as he said he was in the meeting.


Sources said fuel prices could be increased last night. But recently the parastatal was blocked by government from increasing the prices of fuel to $650 per litre for petrol and $340 per litre for diesel. Currently petrol costs $450 per litre, while diesel is pegged at $200.


The new search for fuel follows visits this week to Zambia, Mozambique, and Tanzania by Noczim officials in a bid to ease the country’s crippling fuel crisis.


Government recently failed to secure fuel from Saudi Arabia in addition to earlier efforts to get supplies from Sudan, Nigeria, Iran and Angola where they now want to make a second attempt.


But last night the trip hung in the balance due to cost constraints.


Zimbabwe is currently relying on erratic fuel supplies from private importers and small-scale dealers. Fuel queues have virtually disappeared due to lack of supplies.


Zimbabwe owes suppliers up to US$300 million.


“We are intensifying our efforts to find fuel from wherever we can to find fuel from wherever we can find it,” a Noczim source said yesterday. “Now we are going all out to save this desperate situation.”


Noczim, reeling under an over-$21 billion debt, is unable to ensure adequate supplies due to the forex crisis.


Last week the company invaded the black market in search of foreign exchange. Sources said it used $20 billion to raise foreign currency ahead of its accelerated fuel-hunting expedition. The money was raised by Trustfin, which has been mandated to raise $60 billion for the parastatal.


It is understood Noczim bought foreign exchange at a rate of US$1:$2 300 and as a result only managed to raise US$8,7 million which will buy a week’s supply at normal consumption levels.