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Zimbabwe State Oil Company Back in Charge & Fuel Shortages Return

Fuel shortages have become widespread again in Zimbabwe amid official moves to pull back on issunce of import licenses to new operators, leaving the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe with a an effective monopoly again in the sector, sources said.

VOA was unable to reach Energy Minister Elias Mudzuri of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for comment.

But sources familiar with the energy sector said a decision was taken three months ago by the government and industry players to concentrate financial resources to bring fuel in at a more competitive price with NOCZIM as the conduit for most fuel imports.

But this has led to a shortage as NOCZIM has been unable to reliably come up with the hard currency cash payments demanded by regional suppliers, business sources said.

Meanwhile the price of petrol has soared from 55 U.S. cents to US$1.55 on the back of the worsening shortages, aggravated by a strengthening South African rand.

Economist and consultant Luxon Zembe told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that this latest round of price increases puts additional strain on businesses which are struggling to recover from the country's near-total economic meltdown.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...