There was a lot of panic and frenzied activity yesterday as social media platforms spread the news of another fuel price hike. This hike follows the one we had last week where the price of diesel and petrol were raised to just under $5. This time around rumors suggested that the new prices would be around $8.
Government denies the latest hike
For its part the government through the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) has denied the latest increase. They have issued two statements on social media:
Following the post circulating on social media on the increase of fuel prices, ZERA wishes to assert that fuel prices have not been reviewed
The other one threatens action on those found selling fuel at these new prices:
The Government has NOT increased the price of fuel.While a review of prices was done the decision is that the current prices should be maintained.ZERA will be issuing a detailed statement @zeraenergy @TheCEOMagZim
The new Minister of Ernegy has also come out guns blazing:
It is unacceptable for fuel players to insist on US dollar payments only. That is not compliant with their licences. Remedial action will be taken.
This means little
Last time (and I mean last week here) we had an increase the same thing happened. Social media reports started spreading like wildfire, the government denied this increase was taking place and issued fuel stations with the same chilling warnings. A few hours later the government itself confirmed these price hikes.
The government has done this with ZESA as well, rumors spread, they deny then voila they confirm load shedding. All these about turns take place under the glaring eyes of the public who now have little faith in whatever the government says-with good reason too.
Confusion reigns supreme
An increase in fuel prices has an impact on many parts of the economy and by lunchtime yesterday there was chaos in the economy. Prices of many goods including cooking oil, rice, and other basics were proactively and quickly increased based on the fuel price rumor.
Commuters were left stranded in town as kombis demanded new fares. People spent many hours waiting for ZUPCO buses which were still asking for $0.50. Many service stations quickly shut their doors and claimed they had no fuel. The few that were open were selling fuel at the “new” prices that government is denying.