MPs, govt officials fuelling black market petrol, diesel trade

December 18, 2020

Brenna Matendere

 Individuals from different public offices are abusing the fuel coupons facility managed by the Central Mechanical Engineering Department (CMED), a probe has established.

 The abuse of the coupons is behind the upsurge in black market fuel trade in Harare.

An investigation by Grazers News has revealed that informal traders fronting the government officials who are leaking the fuel coupons onto the black market, solicit for clients to buy them at designated garages where the motorists drive in to refuel.

Inside sources at the CMED headquarters in Harare revealed how the corruption chain operates.  

“The fuel coupons for both diesel and petrol are printed at Fidelity Printers and Refiners. From there, the batches of the coupons packed in wads are brought to the CMED headquarters. We will then sell them to government departments at cheap prices,” he said.

The coupons brought to the CMED headquarters from Fidelity are redeemable at its gas station in Workington in the capital, and other branches countrywide.

At CMED, 20 litre fuel coupons for diesel and petrol are being sold for US$13 and US$15, respectively.

At other filling stations that include the one at the corner of Samora Machel and 4th Street in Harare, men working for the government officials sell the coupons to motorists at US$5 higher.

Black market prices of the fuel coupons are lower than those pegged by official retailers.

The maximum official pump price per litre for petrol is US$1.19 and S$1 for diesel.

Lawmakers are also offloading the fuel coupons mostly redeemable at Petrotrade outlets onto the black market, investigations by Grazers News revealed.

The lawmakers obtain the coupons for parliamentary duties from the august house, which would have received them from CMED.

A member of parliament who requested anonymity said lawmakers were being forced to offload their coupons onto the black market to augment their low income.

Kennedy Chokuda, the Clerk of Parliament, did not answer calls when sought for comment.

Soda Zhemu, the Energy minister, promised to probe the alleged fuel scam and said he would soon engage the Zimbabwe Regulatory Authority (ZERA) mandated to regulate fuel, to stem the leakages.  

Zhemu described as unacceptable, the alleged abuse of the fuel coupons.

“I have not been aware of such leakages and abuses in the fuel sector. Now that I am in the know, I shall be engaging ZERA so that they immediately place measures to curb the vice.

“We will be interested in knowing which individuals in government are leaking the fuel coupons and once detected, appropriate remedies shall be applied,” he said.

Tabani Mpofu, the head of the Special Anti-Corruption Unit (SACU) that works under President Emmerson Mnangagwa, said offenders would be arrested once evidence was availed.  

“We have not received reports of people abusing the fuel facilities. But if I get the evidence, I will arrest them,” said Mpofu.

“We need to have a collaborative working relationship where reporters can give us leads like these,” he said.

Last November, the Transport minister, Joel Biggie Matiza, was implicated in a ZW$66,000 scam by his aide, Cephas Chiwetu, who alleged in court records that his boss was a beneficiary of fuel coupons which he was said to have diverted for personal use.

Recently, the Zimbabwe National Roads Authority (ZINARA) also reported its cash office officials to police over abuse of fuel coupons.

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