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Zimbabweans Recoil at Latest Doubling of Fuel Prices

Zimbabwean drivers and many of their passengers as well are experiencing the shock of the second doubling of fuel prices at one stroke since June.

The government says there is no alternative as it cannot afford to sell petrol or diesel at a loss - but for consumers without hard currency it comes as a financial blow.

However, Bulawayo-based economist Eric Bloch, a member of the board of advisors of the central bank and a newspaper columnist, tells reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the macroeconomic impact should be minimal.

Mr. Bloch explains that consumers were already paying up heftily for fuel as the only place many car owners or minivan operators could find it was on the black market.

Organized labor takes a very different view of the price rise, though.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions President Lovemore Matombo tells Studio 7 that it is a blow to consumers who were already hard-pressed to make ends meet.

Even public transport is no longer within the financial reach of some commuters.

Operators raised fares by as much as 70% on news that the official price of fuel was to double to more than Z$23,000 for a liter of gasoline. The government warned fare hikes would be illegal – but the cost of travel on Harare minibuses soared anyway.

Studio 7 correspondent Thomas Chiripasi reported from Harare.

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