Zimbabwe's petrol price, which currently stands at $1.38/litre for petrol, is the highest in the region contrary to claims by Energy and Power Development minister Joram Gumbo.
Gumbo claimed in an interview with a local daily this week that foreigners in transit are refuelling in Zimbabwe because the local petrol price is lower than that obtaining in most countries in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) region.
“Our price is quite lower than in other countries in the region so they fill up in Zimbabwe while in transit,” the Energy and Power Development minister was quoted as saying.
But according to a survey of Sadc countries (excluding Zambia) by Wheels 24, a section of News24.com, an English-language South African online news publication, the Zimbabwean petrol price is the highest in the region.
The survey by the online news publication reveals that the price of fuel in oil-producing Angola, where motorists pay $0,52/litre, is the lowest in the region.
Elsewhere in the Sadc region, motorists are paying $0,87 in Botswana and Lesotho; $0,92 in in Swaziland and $0,93 in Namibia.
Of all the countries surveyed, Zimbabwe, at $1,38/litre, has the highest petrol price followed by Mozambique where motorists pay $1,12/litre.
The third highest petrol price is in South Africa where the inland price is $1,04/litre while the coast price is a dollar.
Despite the high fuel prices, fuel shortages still persist.
Gumbo attributed the fuel shortages to scarcity of foreign currency.
He told State media that his ministry has asked the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to review its foreign currency allocation upwards.
“We have enough fuel stocks in the country but sometimes we do not have forex to pay for the fuel. We strike deals with oil companies to deliver a lot of fuel in the country in advance.
“However we can only access that fuel after paying for it and our forex shortages sometimes hinder us from getting your preferred supply. We cannot say there is no fuel because there’s no forex. The fuel is there but the suppliers want forex up front. Our allocation is around $20 million per week for fuel so we receive it from the Reserve Bank. So if we are not allocated that forex, we may delay in accessing fuel.
“We made a proposal to the Reserve Bank to increase our weekly forex allocation from $20 million to $35 million per week,” said the Energy minister.
According to Wheels 24, Zimbabwe is the only country in the region which has not enjoyed a petrol price decrease.
“All Sadc countries saw a fuel decrease between November 2018 and January 2019 except for Zimbabwe — drivers are still paying $1,38/litre for petrol since October last year,” said the publication, adding that another fuel price drop is expected this month.
The Automobile Association (AA) in South Africa has also predicted a price decrease this month. It said unaudited month-end fuel price data released by that country’s Central Energy Fund show a substantial drop across the board.
“Petrol is showing a reduction of around R1 a litre, with diesel down by R1.30 and illuminating paraffin dropping by R1,22.
“Should this decrease materialise it will amount to a more than R2 decrease in the fuel price since the beginning of December, bringing much-needed relief to consumers battered by considerable increases throughout the year.
“The main driver of these reductions has been sagging international petroleum prices, spurred on by the USA which is trending towards becoming a net exporter of oil. Should this ever come to pass, the power of the OPEC nations to influence petroleum prices would be reduced considerably, leading to increased oil price stability,” the South African AA says.