Tahna Fleishman/Ashleigh Swaile
THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has attacked government for its silence on the fuel crisis, challenging the authorities to explain the situation.
This follows five weeks of a deepening fuel crisis which has gripped the nation resulting in the loss of production and shortage of commuter transport.
In a statement last week, ZCTU secretary-general Wellington Chibebe said government should come out in the open and explain the problem.
“Government should come out in the open and tell the public about the fuel situation and what it is doing about it,” Chibebe said.
He said government’s silence on the fuel situation was surprising.
“Long winding queues of cars are now a familiar sight at service stations and motorists have resorted to sleeping in their cars while waiting for the fuel they dream will come anytime soon. Workers have resorted to footing to work because there is no public transport system to take workers to and from work.”
Government has over the past three weeks failed to supply petrol and diesel to service stations throughout the country, leaving many motorists and thousands of workers stranded. The crisis has crippled the public and private operations with most companies operating below capacity. The public transport system has virtually ground to a halt with workers having to resort to foot, directly impacting on production of basic commodities and reducing working hours.
Chibebe said the slowdown in production and the rapidly escalating price of fuel had caused a surge in prices of basic goods posing a threat to the workers and the public. Last month government hiked the petrol price to $10 000 per litre from $3 600 but did not guarantee the commodity’s availability.
A Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) report for last month shows that an average family of six now requires $4,2 million a month to survive. Chibebe said his organisation was shocked that government looked unconcerned by the impact of the crisis on the industry and public.
He urged government “to make a public announcement on the fuel situation and what measures are being embarked on to bring the situation to normalcy”.
Experts say the fuel shortages are likely to continue unless foreign currency inflows improve. Currently international fuel suppliers are demanding cash upfront from Zimbabwe because of its poor creditworthiness.