Wednesday, 20 March 2019
Latest news
Main » Fuel hike sparks protests in Zimbabwe

Fuel hike sparks protests in Zimbabwe

14 January 2019

Zimbabwean President, Emmerson Mnangagwa who announced the increase on Saturday night, noted that the prices were predicated on the prevailing rate of 1:1 between the US dollar and the surrogate bond note.

Zimbabwe's economy has been in a slump for more than a decade, with cash shortages, high unemployment and recently a scarcity of staples such as bread and cooking oil.

Mnangagwa attributed the increases to persistent shortfalls in the fuel market, largely blaming rampant illegal currency and fuel trading activities.

With prices skyrocketing and fuel shortages halting economic activity, Mnangagwa on Saturday night raised the price of fuel from $1.30 to almost $3.30, which puts the price of fuel in terms of the parallel market rate at about $1 per litre.

But many Zimbabweans criticised the move, worrying a knock-on spike in other costs would worsen an already hard economic situation and trigger protests and strikes.

Victor Nyoni, head of a local business body, said the fuel prices would push up the cost of other goods.

"Cognisant of the need to prevent generalised price increases for goods and services in the country, with the attendant hardships which that will entail especially to the commuting workforce, the government has chose to grant a rebate to all registered business entities in manufacturing, mining, commerce, agriculture and transport sectors", he said.

The announcement came after fuel shortages which began in October a year ago worsened in recent weeks with motorists sometimes spending nights in queues to fuel pumps stretching for kilometres.

"So far the stay-away has been effective", Peter Mutasa, President of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, said by phone. "This is not just for one person, it is for everyone", he said. "Workers' salaries have been reduced to nothing and our suffering elevated to another level".

Pompeo to pressure Saudis for answers in Khashoggi murder
Pompeo is later expected to head to Riyadh, where all eyes will be on a possible meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Pompeo refused on Sunday to comment on reports Washington had recently considered military action against Tehran.

Nelson Chamisa, leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance, said the party would mobilise workers and party supporters to march against the rising cost of living.

"Is there anyone truly objective and rational who can sensibly argue that there has been any meaningful change in Zimbabwe since the 2017 coup?"

"Most of the companies do not have raw materials that go beyond January as most of our suppliers cut us out of stock, and it is only payment in foreign exchange that will unlock supply lines", CZI President Sifelani Jabangwe said in the letter.

The country has been recording significant economic decline following the harmonized elections with price hikes and shortages of various commodities becoming the order of the day.

He said the government would crackdown on "elements bent on taking advantage of the current fuel shortages to cause and sponsor unrest and instability in the country". "These prices are predicated on the ruling official exchange rate of 1:1 between the bond note and the U.S. dollar and also on the need to keep fuel retailers viable".

"It's going to reduce demand for fuel because it's now a bit expensive and that will deal with speculative demand if it was there", said economist Godfrey Mugano.

The acute shortage of USA dollars has made it hard for President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government to import not only fuel but also drugs and other goods.

Mnangagwa, who leaves for a five-nation tour on Sunday, warned the government "will not allow" businesses to trigger a new round of price increases. "These prices are predicated on the ruling official exchange rate of 1:1 between the bond note and the USA dollar and also on the need to keep fuel retailers viable", Mnangagwa said at State House in Harare.

Fuel hike sparks protests in Zimbabwe