TRANSPORT expert Henry Chipewo says the current fuel crisis in Zambia has exposed serious inefficiencies in government’s procurement of feedstock.
And Chipewo says the government’s economic management is the poorest since the country gained independence.
Fuel shortages have persisted over the last week as erratic supply of the commodity continues to affect motorists in Lusaka and other parts of the country, raising concerns that the impact may cripple the weakening economy further.
In an interview, Chipewo, a former TAZARA managing director, said the fuel crisis clearly shows the flaws in the manner the government procures feedstock, blaming the current government of the PF of not addressing the root cause of the current procurement system.
“In the procurement of the first feedstock, we were buying oil from the high seas and were using Trafigura. For a government to go and buy fuel from the high seas is a shame because we are supposed to be buying fuel from the oil rigs. Even though oil prices had fallen for almost nine months, our prices were still very high because the procurement is suspect and inefficient, so it is about time we introduced technocrats in running our economy,” he said. Chipewo said the impact of the fuel crisis will be sharply felt among the poorest in society.
“You will find that the poor will be most affected because these people have no capacity to increase their salaries or welfare for as long as the macro-[economic] factors are against them. So poverty will be enhanced in this country and there can easily be anarchy,” he added. And Chipewo, who is also former president of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in Zambia, said the PF had failed to adequately address issues affecting the economy, accusing them of mismanaging the economy.
“They have borrowed [for infrastructure projects] and now they have no money for anything, including for fuel! The manner of economic management is the poorest I have ever seen since this country became independent. No politician I have heard since this new government came into being talks about addressing the issues of the economy; it is about personality, pride, all nonsense!” said Chipewo, describing the government’s handling of the crisis as “extremely poor.”
The government last week promised to resolve the fuel crisis but shortages have persisted in major towns around the country.
Meanwhile, a new one-year government-to-government renewable oil procurement and supply deal with Saudi Arabia was recently signed and is scheduled to take effect this year, although energy minister, Christopher Yaluma, is yet to avail the full details.