Fuel shortages, once common in Zimbabwe before the introduction of a monetary system of mixed hard currencies in early 2009, have returned in many parts of the country.
Fuel market sources said shortages are related to financial problems at the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe or Noczim, often accused of mismanagement or worse. The state entity has been unable to import enough fuel from South Africa and Mozambique, from which fuel flows through a pipeline along the so-called Beira Corridor.
The independent daily Newsday quoted Energy Minister Elton Mangoma as saying fuel supplies through the Beira line have been erratic while South Africa has been exporting less fuel because it has its own problems ensuring an adequate supply.
Fuel shortages have been reported in particular in Bulawayo, Gwanda, Plumtree and Victoria Falls, which are geographically dependent on South African exports.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce President Trust Chikohora said shortages are affecting businesses which are having trouble distributing goods. "We hope this will not get out of control as it will have a devastating effect on the economy,” he said.
Former Nkayi member of Parliament Abednico Bhebhe, operator of a fuel service station in Bulawayo, said that at times the station goes two days without gasoline.
Affirmative Action Group President Supa Mandiwanzira said it is unacceptable for the country to be short of fuel at a time when the economy is attempting a recovery.