Outrage as Zim fuel prices rise on shortfall

Petrol. File picture
Petrol. File picture
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

Zimbabweans reacted with outrage on Sunday to a sharp rise in the price of fuel announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in a move to improve supplies as the country struggles with its worst petrol shortages in a decade.

Zimbabwe’s economy has been in decline for more than a decade, with cash shortages, high unemployment and recently a scarcity of basic staples like bread and cooking oil.

Speaking on Saturday, Mnangagwa said prices of petrol and diesel would more than double to tackle a shortfall caused by increased demand and rampant illegal trading.

The main labour alliance Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) said the government had demonstrated a lack of empathy for the already overburdened poor by introducing the 100%-plus hike.

“The government has officially declared its anti-worker, anti-poor and anti-people ideological position by increasing fuel prices. Workers’ salaries have been reduced to nothing and our suffering elevated to another level,” it said.

Nelson Chamisa, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said: “We have a national crisis which is descending into a humanitarian crisis.

“We believe this crisis requires all hands on the deck.

“We will lead and stand ready to play a key role in finding a lasting solution.”

Evan Mawarire, a cleric and activist who led anti-government protests in 2016, said: “You have cornered us and you leave us no choice. It’s time to mobilise every person who truly loves Zimbabwe.”

Mnangagwa also announced a package of measures to help state workers after strikes by doctors and teachers over poor pay.

He said that from midnight on Saturday, petrol prices would rise to $3.31 a litre (R46/l) from $1.24/l (R17/l) and diesel to $3.11/l (R43/l) from $1.36/l (R19/l). –