Zim fuel price hike sparks outrage

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

Protesters in Zimbabwe barricaded the main roads into major cities on Monday to protest a fuel price rise announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

"Industry is facing imminent collapse", the CZI said.

"The house is burning", the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries said in a letter to the Industry Ministry.

In the capital, Harare, hundreds of residents in the suburb of Epworth blocked roads to prevent buses from getting to their destination.

A number of schools have not opened, with some reports that pupils were turned back.

The main labour alliance Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) said the government had demonstrated a lack of empathy for the already overburdened poor by introducing the more than 100% hike. "We think it's an act of courage by people who have stayed away".

Petrol prices rose from $1.24 a litre to $3.31 (2.89 euros), with diesel up from $1.36 a litre to $3.11 starting Sunday - one of the highest pump prices in the world.

"We believe this crisis requires all hands on the deck".

Industries in Zimbabwe have been denied access to foreign currency since October and companies have been forced to obtain dollars illegally on the black market, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries said in the letter. The allocation of foreign exchange isn't transparent and the government needs to permit interbank trading of foreign exchange, the confederation said.

The new price of fuel places the commodity beyond the reach of many Zimbabweans, including public sector workers whose salaries remain unchanged despite a dramatic loss in value against the United States dollar by the bond note surrogate currency in which they receive their salaries.

"Most of the companies do not have raw materials that go beyond January as most of our suppliers cut us out of stock, and it is only payment in foreign exchange that will unlock supply lines", said Sifelani Jabangwe, the president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries. Fast-food company Simbisa Brands Ltd. said last month it would give customers a discount if they paid in hard currency.

The President is being accompanied by the Minister of Mines and Mining Development Winston Chitando, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Professor Mthuli Ncube, the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Retired Air Chief Marshal Perrance Shiri, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Dr John Mangudya and Deputy Chief Secretary in the President's Office responsible for communication Cde George Charamba and senior government officials. The CZI said the country need its own currency and wants a clear time frame as to when this will happen.

While the crisis deepens, President Emmerson Mnangagwa is due to be away for two weeks with a trip spanning Azerbaijan to the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

A massive hike of 240 per cent in the prices of petrol and diesel goes into effect today in Zimbabwe. "I am for a national shutdown".

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