By Blessing Bonga and Kudakwashe Pembere
THE Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority has dispelled yesterday’s reports in some sections of the media that fuel prices had gone up with petrol reportedly selling at US$1,70 per litre, while diesel was said to be selling at US$1,50 per litre. The reports attributed the alleged price increase to results of last week’s harmonised elections that were resoundingly won by Zanu-PF.
ZERA spoke as South also dismissed claims that it had reintroduced visa fees in the wake of President Mugabe’s crushing victory in the harmonised elections to stem an anticipated influx of economic refugees.
Some pro-MDC-T websites and the party’s trolls on social media claimed South Africa was closing its borders to stem an influx of Zimbabweans fleeing hardships that MDC-T claimed would engulf the country in the wake of its crushing defeat.
During his fruitless campaign tour in all 10 provinces ahead of the harmonised elections, MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai claimed the sanctions-induced hardships that ravaged Zimbabwe would return if his party was booted out of Government.
Analysts said the fuel price increase reports were designed to influence a spike in prices to fulfil MDC-T’s hardships mantra.
ZERA chief executive Engineer Gloria Magombo dismissed the reports as mischievous and bent on instigating unnecessary and unjustified fuel price increases not related to any cost drivers.
“Zera views such reports as trying to instigate unnecessary fuel price hikes not at all related to any changes in the cost drivers of fuel and are not in any way linked to the outcome of the just ended harmonised elections,” she said.
Eng Magombo added that a snap survey carried out by the regulatory authority’s monitoring and compliance team had revealed that prices of fuel being charged by fuel stations had remained unchanged.
“Our survey has actually revealed that the prices of fuel at service stations have not changed and therefore ZERA does not expect any upward movement in the prices of fuels especially taking into cognisance the fact that the International crude oil prices have generally remained stable.
“In Harare yesterday, prices of petrol ranged from US$1, 48 to US$1, 51 while those of diesel ranged from US$1, 33 to US$1, 35,” said Eng Magombo.
In Bulawayo prices yesterday were also unchanged with the price of fuel ranging from US$1, 52 to US$1, 55 for petrol while diesel ranged from US$1, 35 to US$1, 40.
Eng Magombo warned unscrupulous fuel dealers who might want to create confusion and take advantage of customers by charging exorbitant prices saying that her organisation was closely monitoring events on the market and that those found wanting would be penalised.
“One of the key mandates of ZERA is to ensure that petroleum prices are fair to both consumers and the licence operators and that they comply with Statutory Instrument 83 of 2009.
“ZERA will thus continue to monitor the fuel prices and any fuel licensees who charge beyond the price allowable in terms of SI 83 of 2009: Control of Goods (Petroleum Prices) will have their licences cancelled in terms of the Petroleum Act,” she said.
A snap survey carried out by The Herald in some Harare fuel service stations showed that there was no fuel increase.
At Total service stations petrol was selling at the normal $1, 51 while diesel was going for $1, 35 per litre. At Sakunda, increase in the price of fuel was recorded as petrol sold for $1, 48 while diesel was at $1, 33.
No price increase was recorded at Engen service stations where petrol was sold at $1, 51 while diesel was selling at $1, 51 while it was the same at Zuva service stations.
The last time fuel prices went up in Zimbabwe was in February this year by at least five percent that saw petrol going up from an average of about US$1,46 per litre to about US$1,51 while diesel went up from an average of US$1,30 per litre to about US$1,35 per litre.
The fuel increase rumours started spreading soon after the announcement of Zanu-PF’s resounding victory as prophets of doom started circulating harmful and speculative rumours on the economic performance of Zimbabwe.
Director general in South Africa’s Home Affairs ministry Mr Mkuseli Apleni yesterday said there had been no changes to South Africa’s immigration policy.
‘’Thank you for your email inquiry regarding the introduction of visa fees for Zimbabweans intending to stay in South Africa for 90 days or more. The visa situation for Zimbabweans remains the same, and there has
not been any changes. All changes and policy positions are published on the Department for Home Affairs website at www.dha.gov.za However, the Minister of Home Affairs has not issued any such statement, nor do we intend to do so. Please inform your readers that the visa situation remains the same.’’
Since its launch in 1999, the MDC-T has cultivated votes on the back of the suffering of the generality of Zimbabweans, which was the raison d’être for the west’s illegal economic sanctions regime imposed at the turn of the millennium that cost the country over US$42billion in revenue.