Speaking in the Senate while during a Question and Answer session, Energy and Power Development Minister Joram Gumbo attributed the reappearance of queues to social media reports of a pending increase in fuel prices.
Gumbo said the resurgence of queues was a result of panic buying and those trying to redeem their long held coupons. Chief Nembire had asked him to explain why there was a resurgence of fuel queues. In his response, Minister Gumbo said they had also directed fuel suppliers to focus more on delivering the commodity to outlying areas after it was noted that they had been neglected during the violent protests that occurred last month. Said Gumbo:
Yes, it is true that in the past few days from Saturday we started witnessing fuel queues resurfacing. It started when the prices of petrol and diesel had been increased but through social media, there were messages that were sent saying that fuel was going up. That caused panic and people rushed to service stations to hoard fuel and it distorted our cities, Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru and Mutare. That is when the queues resurfaced in those major towns. There was a distortion.
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We wanted fuel to be delivered to the rural areas because during the shutdown period, the fuel tankers could not go far away places. We had encouraged them to concentrate on the outside areas and that is when people speculated that we wanted to increase the fuel price. I want to assure the House that the fuel is there in the country and I was with His Excellency and the Reserve Bank Governor in the morning. They showed me figures of the funds that they gave to the oil companies so that they buy fuel.
I also want all of us as leaders to know that if you see a service station looking as if they are in trouble, that is caused by the owner of the service station. Probably, they are not banking their money, that is why they are facing these challenges but now, these big companies like Puma have long queues. This is because when prices changed, they had sold many coupons to people. We encouraged them to honour initial prices because others were now revaluing the coupons. Puma and Redan are the ones who are in trouble because they have a backlog of the coupons and people want to finish those coupons so that they will engage new businesses. So, we should not be afraid because fuel is there in the country.