By Anna Chibamu
THERE was commotion Wednesday in Parliament after Deputy Energy Minister Magna Mudyiwa told MPs in the August House that there were not enough fuel supplies for the country this festive season in the country as the Government had failed secure foreign currency for fuel imports.
Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda had to spring to the defence of the Minister, telling MPs that it was not the responsibility of the Energy Ministry to pay for fuel imports, but that of the Minister of Finance, Mthuli Ncube and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor, John Mangudya.
This was after infuriated MDC MPs had demanded answers from Mudyiwa on why government had failed to secure adequate fuel supplies ahead of the coming Festive Season.
Earlier, the Deputy Energy Minister had confirmed that it was going to be a dry season for the motoring public as the Government had no foreign funds to pay for fuel imports.
The admission by Mudyiwa saw annoyed MDC MPs rising in anger demanding answers as they could not stomach a long holiday without fuel.
After the commotion had settled, Mudyiwa went on to inform the legislators that although there was fuel bonded at the National Oil Infrastructure Company’s (NOIC) Msasa Fuel Depot in Harare, the Energy Ministry was failing to pay the importers to release the fuel.
“Our role as the ministry is to ensure that there is enough fuel in the country and yes we have enough fuel at the moment but it is bonded until payment is made,” said Mudyiwa.
However, the MPs pestered the Deputy Energy Minister on what other strategies the Government had put in place to ensure that fuel was readily available in the country ahead of the Festive Season.
The top government official was adamant that her ministry could not be held hostage because of fuel shortages.
“Those are the Finance Ministry and RBZ issues. At the moment, we are working with them to make sure that they speed up the process to make sure fuel is available at the garages for the consumers.
“However, the arrangement for the payment of fuel with the traders is between RBZ and Finance Ministry. Refer your questions to the Finance Ministry,” the Deputy Minister shot back at the MPs.
Frustrated and desperate motorists have for the better part of 2019 been spending long hours parked at fuel stations as Zimbabwe battles with its worst economic crisis in a decade, due to severe shortage of foreign currency to import basic commodities like fuel.