Small fuel firms are now allowed to import fuel after the High Court on Wednesday overturned the choice by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) to issue import licences to solely eight main fuel firms.
The small companies each have less than 15 service stations and the principle motive why they were excluded was that their fuel was unlikely to have main impact on nationwide supplies.
Zera allowed Total Zimbabwe, Glow Petroleum, Ram Petroleum, Genesis Energy, Vivo Energy, Zuva Petroleum, Sakunda Petroleum and Redan Petroleum to import fuel directly, but instructed the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) to bar any other fuel imports.
Aggrieved by the Zera directive, Direct Fuel Imports (DFI) Group Zimbabwe and Indigenous Petroleum Association of Zimbabwe (IPAZ), approached the High Court suing Zera and Energy and Power Development Minister Fortune Chasi over the licensing of fuel importers.
They sought to suspend the Zera notice and evaluate of the licensing process, which they argued was veiled in secrecy and promoted monopolistic tendencies within the fuel retail sector.
Justice Tawanda Chitapi granted the DFI Group and IPAZ a provisional order permitting them to usher in their consignments pending the finalisation of the matter.
The members of the 2 teams can now briefly use their 2019 licences to usher in fuel. The judge mentioned the full reasons for the judgment will be availed in due course.
Early this year, Zera issued fuel import licences to main fuel corporations, which incensed the DFI Group whose members have been overlooked.
By means of its lawyer, Mr Frank Nyangani, the DFI Group’s contention was that the proposed licensing necessities have been discriminatory against smaller indigenous gamers within the petroleum sector, which had potential to create a dangerous monopoly within the business contrary to Zera’s mandate of promoting “efficient competitors between individuals engaged within the petroleum business”.
Zera, which was being represented by Sawyer and Mkushi law agency, argued that the fuel sellers excluded in this case had failed to fulfill the set necessities, particularly the necessity to have no less than 15 retail service stations.
The requirement came on account of rising applications for import licences when they did not have retail sites or retail licences. There were fears that smaller companies have been feeding the black market.
Minister Chasi, who was represented by the civil division within the Attorney-General’s Office, submitted that Government wanted to convey order to the sector, which has failed to satisfy the demand for fuel.