Mthuli, Mangudya refusing to cooperate with fuel cartels investigations: Deputy Minister

Mthuli, Mangudya refusing to cooperate with fuel cartels investigations: Deputy Minister
Mthuli, Mangudya refusing to cooperate with fuel cartels investigations: Deputy Minister

Energy and Power Development deputy minister Magna Mudyiwa has told Parliament that the finance ministry and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) are refusing to release information that is critical in investigating fuel cartels.

Mudyiwa was answering questions in the Senate on why fuel companies are still selling in US Dollars when they get money from the auction.

Companies that get foreign currency from the RBZ auction system, are supposed to trade in local currency.

Fuel companies are among such companies that have benefited from the weekly auction facility.

The auction is selling US$1 for ZW$85 to ensure that companies do not buy forex from the black market.

Below is an extract from the question that was asked by Senator Chief Chikwaka real name Witness Bungu and the conversation that ensued in the Senate.

Extract from the Senate Hansard GET FULL HANSARD HERE

Mthuli, Mangudya refusing to cooperate with fuel cartels investigations: Deputy Minister

HONOURABLE SENATOR CHIEF CHIKWAKA: Thank you Madam President.  My question is directed to the Minister of Energy and Power Development. For some time now, we were promised that fuel is going to be bought using the local currency in our service stations. What arrangements have been put in place to allow people to access fuel in local currency? Because people are now travelling more than 4 km radius and there is this inter-city travel ban because US dollars are not readily available?  When are we going to buy fuel from our service stations using our local currency?  I thank you.

It’s our intention that fuel is sold in Zimdollars

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER DEVELOPMENT HONOURABLE MAGNA MUDYIWA: Thank you Madam President and I thank the Hon. Senator for his question which is of public interest as it relates to fuel.  Let me say as the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, it is our intention to ensure that fuel is sold using Zimbabwean dollars, Hon. Members know that.  Companies who use their own foreign currency can purchase their own fuel and they are allowed to sell in US dollars.  However, there are companies that are receiving money from Government auction using the inter-bank rate. Once they import such fuel, they must sell it in local currency. What I observed is that a lot of companies that are getting money from the auction floor are selling in foreign currency. And that is why fuel that is sold in local currency or EcoCash is now scarce. 

We are still carrying out investigations into the matter to establish who is getting the money at the auction rate and selling fuel in US dollars.  We can get that information from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe but if we do not receive that information, we are not in a position to identify who has received the money using the inter-bank rate. The matter is still under investigation so that we can come up with an informed position. Companies such as CMED and PetroTrade are the places where fuel is obtainable in local currency.  Once the information is made available we will name and shame such companies that are doing this practice as what the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe did, they named and shamed the abuse of foreign currency by some companies.

Culprits are know

HONOURABLE SENATOR CHIEF CHIKWAKA: Thank you Madam President. My supplementary question is, it would appear as if such companies are operating from Mozambique. Yet they are here in our country and RBZ is here. The culprits are known, so there is nothing to investigate.  The culprits are known. Such companies have been given foreign currency at the auction-rate to buy fuel. And the Minister responsible for arresting is here, where is the problem really?  The RBZ must be able to work hand and glove with the Ministry of Finance so that we come up with meaningful developments for our people. What is the problem with their investigations, the arresting Minister is here?  I thank you.

DEPUTY MINISTER MUDYIWA: Thank you Madam President. We have always had this problem of getting information on who received money, what date and to look into their sales.  The information is with the Ministry of Finance. We wrote to them requesting for adequate information.  If we do not receive that information, it becomes difficult to verify when and how much they received and to also look into their sales.  We are conducting that process. At the moment, we do not have adequate information, hence we have not concluded our investigations.   Once we receive that information, we will come up with a solution.

This question has been asked three or four times

Mthuli, Mangudya refusing to cooperate with fuel cartels investigations: Deputy Minister

HONOURABLE SENATOR TAMBUDZAI MOHADI: Thank you Madam President. My supplementary is that this question, maybe this is the third or fourth time that it has been asked. And the answer always is that there are investigations going on but till when? It has taken too long because people outside there need answers since they are suffering. They are holding Zimbabwean dollars and they have heard that there are companies who are getting that fuel after being given money by RBZ yet nothing is happening.

DEPUTY MINISTER MUDYIWA: Thank you Madam President.  Like I have mentioned before, it takes time. We do not say the investigation is done once but let me just start by saying from the figures that we get, we have got more fuel through Direct Fuel Import (FDI), meaning that these are the people who are using their free funds to import fuel.  However, very few million litres that are imported through the auction-rate are being sold through the RTGS facility.

Secondly, like I have explained before, I do not know whether Hon. Members really understand what we go through because this is with RBZ.  If we do not get the information on time, it also takes time for us to conclude our investigations.  We are really doing all we can to get to the bottom of the matter. And as soon as we get the information, we shall avail it to the House and let everybody know what is happening.  I thank you.

Govt department fail to get information from another Govt department

HONOURABLE SENATOR DR. TICHINANI MAVETERA: Thank you Madam President.  I think this would sound like repetition. But allow me to ask the Minister of Energy because this is an issue of national importance. People are suffering out there and in actual fact, we have been talking about this for quite some time.  Am I getting it clearly that we are having problems of information coming from another Government department to another Government department on issues of investigating something which is patently illegal?  I think then we will have a problem here. Because we cannot say with all due respect that they are having challenges in getting information from RBZ.  That information is public knowledge because it is on auction, it is actually public.  What really is the problem?  With all due respect, the Minister has to straight away explain what the challenge really is.

I am not the only one because people out there are not convinced with the answer unfortunately which has been proffered by the Honourable Minister.  This issue has to be put to rest. When we get money on the auction market, it is actually public funds and perhaps to be accountable.  It is the duty of the Government to bring those who go against the system to account.  I thank you.

DEPUTY MINISTER MUDYIWA: I think the point has been noted. Let us get back to the drawing board and come back with the information.

Mthuli, Mangudya refusing to cooperate with fuel cartels investigations: Deputy Minister

Mthuli, Mangudya refusing to cooperate with fuel cartels investigations: Deputy Minister