Zimbabwe hikes fuel price again after minister says it’s still cheap

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Zimbabwe’s energy regulator has raised petrol and diesel prices by up to 16%, the fourth increase this year, after the finance minister said fuel was considerably cheaper than in neighbouring countries.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced the biggest fuel price hike in January, a 150% increase, which sparked deadly protests by financially struggling Zimbabweans that left more than a dozen people dead after an army clampdown.

The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority said late on Friday that effective Saturday, petrol would cost 6.10 Zimbabwe dollars ($0.70) a litre, up from 5.26, while the price of diesel had been increased 13% to 5.84 Zimbabwe dollars.

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube was quoted in a daily newspaper on Thursday as saying he would be happy if the price of fuel was equivalent to $1 per litre.

While Ncube wants fuel prices to reflect import costs, many Zimbabweans can barely afford to pay them when the unemployment exceeds 80% and the entry-level wage for a government employee is about $49 a month – enough to buy a car tyre.

But with no sign of an end to rolling power cuts in the southern African country, demand for fuel has risen as businesses resort to more expensive diesel-powered generators.

Analysts say this is increasing the price of doing business,with companies likely to pass the cost to consumers, who a real ready grappling with inflation of nearly 100%.

There were long queues at service stations selling fuel early on Saturday. Hopes that living standards would soon improve under Mnangagwa, who came to power after Robert Mugabe was removed i na coup in 2017, have not been realised.

Instead, Zimbabweans are frustrated by daily power outages lasting up to 17 hours and severe shortages of U.S. dollars, fuel, bread, and medicines.$1 = 8.75 Zimbabwe dollars.

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