Fuel price grossly inflated

Fule price grossly inflated

A year ago the price of crude oil was over $115 a barrel. A few days ago, the price fell to below $28 a barrel. This is a decline of $87 a barrel or 75 per cent. In Zimbabwe fuel prices at the pump a year ago were at an average of about $1.40 a litre or R16 per litre in South Africa.

Currently, average fuel prices in Zimbabwe are about $1.20 a litre, a decline of just 14 per cent and in South Africa prices are hovering about R10 per litre - a market decline of nearly 40 per cent despite a 30 per cent devaluation in the Rand. In other words the fall in prices in the South African market has been more or less in line with global trends. That is not the case in Zimbabwe.

Consumers looking around them will have noted the many millions of dollars being spent on refurbishing old filing stations, new pumps, new signage, forecourts, gardens and more - all signs that the stark decline in the domestic economy has not affected retail distributors of fuel products.

During the Government of National Unity the Ministry of Energy came under the control and management of the MDC-T and during the fours years that the Party was in charge, not only was the petroleum industry completely reorganized but the Ministry insisted on competition between bulk suppliers and the wholesale and retail industry in Zimbabwe. The result was that liquid fuels were brought into free supply at market prices and the benefits to the consumers were immediate.

Competition ensured that suppliers were forced to limit their margins on sales and to compete with each other in an open, well regulated market.

Since the Zanu PF regime resumed control of the Ministry of Energy in 2013, the Ministry has been characterized by incompetence, mismanagement and corruption. In addition unscrupulous traders, many with dubious reputations have taken control of the industry and margins and profitability have increased dramatically at the expense of the consumer. It is time the Minister of Energy gave a clear and honest explanation as to why prices in Zimbabwe remain so high and what he is doing about the issue.

Consumers need to be reminded that a cent a litre at the pump in Zimbabwe is equal to $16 million dollars a year - a 60 per cent reduction in the pump price would put $840 million dollars back into their pockets. That a small handful of companies should be allowed to milk the local market and consumers of this sort of money is a disgrace. But then we have come to expect this sort of behavior from Zanu PF.

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Zanu PF government should treat civil servants with respect and dignity

Lazarus Dokora -Zanu PF and Minister of Education

The MDC would like to unreservedly condemn the decision by the Zanu PF government to order all teachers on leave to immediately return to work. It should be understood that teachers, like any other group of workers in the civil service, are entitled to go on leave as part of their terms and conditions of employment. Thus, going on leave is not a privilege but a legitimate and lawful right for all civil servants, including teachers.

Of late, we have noticed a very disturbing trend whereby school teachers are treated with scorn and contempt by the Zanu PF government. In the past few decades, it was a well-established practice that teachers and members of the security forces would be paid their salaries first before all other civil servants. It is a matter of public record that members of the security services received their December 2015 salaries timeously i.e. a few days before the Christmas holiday. However, teachers and all other civil servants were only paid their December salaries well after the Christmas holidays. As a result, thousands of families experienced a very depressing and stressful Christmas holiday because their breadwinners had not managed to access their salaries before the onset of the traditional end of year festive season. This is very unfair and uncalled for.

It would appear that the Zanu PF regime has got a bone to chew with teachers. The MDC calls upon the national treasury, broke as it might be, to prioritise the timeous payment of civil servants’ salaries. It is also mind-boggling that the entire Zanu PF Cabinet travelled to the Middle East and the Far East to spend the festive season with their families whilst teachers and all other civil servants endured one of the most miserable and unexciting festive seasons because they were not paid their December salaries on time. As if this was not enough undue and undeserved punishment, civil servants have still not been paid their annual bonuses for the year 2015.

President Robert Mugabe and his extended family are still enjoying their annual holidays in the Middle East. Indeed, President Mugabe has made it a tradition to travel to far away and very expensive destinations, at the expense of the near bankrupt national treasury, for his annual leave and Christmas holidays.

As a labour backed social democratic political party, the MDC is very concerned by the selfish practice whereby the Zanu PF regime never prioritises the welfare of ordinary civil servants who actually earn very meagre salaries. Robert Mugabe has appointed a bloated Cabinet of over seventy (70) Ministers and Deputy Ministers. All these government bureaucrats are allocated expensive sports utility vehicles as well as Mercedes Benz limousines.

In the last year alone, the Zanu PF regime spent no less than US$60 million on vehicles for ministers and the top brass of the security services. Meanwhile, the public transport operator, the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO),has been run down through decades of rampant corruption and gross mismanagement. Consequently, the majority of Zimbabweans, who include poorly remunerated teachers and other civil servants, have to rely on privately owned commuter omnibuses most of which are in a very poor mechanical condition. The situation in government –run clinics and hospitals is quite depressing as well. Recently, it was reported that government hospitals are experiencing a very serious shortage of essential drugs and medicines.

Unless and until the faction-ridden and bankrupt Zanu PF regime resigns en masse, the majority of Zimbabweans shall continue to wallow in poverty and destitution. The people of Zimbabwe have suffered enough and it is not fair to let this desperate socio-economic state of affairs continue unabated. The MDC resolutely advocates for the restoration of a decent standard of living for the the down-trodden and impoverished masses of Zimbabwe.

As a parting shot, we call upon the Zanu PF regime to immediately cancel the ill-conceived plans of staging a million dollar birthday bash for their aging ruler in Masvingo next month. All the money that is being mobilised for this birthday jamboree should, instead, be immediately diverted to importing maize to avert the impending drought. For once, the MDC expects Robert Mugabe to at least have a conscience and cancel the planned obscene birthday jamboree. That is the very least that he can do for the starving Zimbabweans out there in the various provinces of the country.

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