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Anger as Mnangagwa raises gas prices in Zimbabwe

Anger as Mnangagwa raises gas prices in Zimbabwe

They came on the first day of a three-day general strike called by unions, amid an intensifying economic crisis.

Mnangagwa said that petrol prices would rise from $1.24 (about R17) a litre to a whopping $3.31 (about R46) and diesel from $1.36 (about R18.94) a litre to $3.11 (about R43).

Zimbabweans reacted with outrage Sunday to a sharp rise in the price of fuel announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in a move to improve supplies as the country struggles with its worst petrol shortages in a decade.

Six people were gunned down by the Zimbabwe National Army in August a year ago following protests over delays in announcing results of the July presidential election won by Mnangagwa.

"Cognisant of the need to prevent generalised price increases for goods and services in the country, with the attendant hardships which that will entail especially to the commuting workforce, the government has chose to grant a rebate to all registered business entities in manufacturing, mining, commerce, agriculture and transport sectors", he said.

Most of the city's public transport was at a standstill, with fewer shops than usual open for business and schools asking pupils to return home.

The government has officially declared its anti-worker, anti-poor and anti-people ideological position.
"Workers' salaries have been reduced to nothing and our suffering elevated to another level", it said.

The main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, issued a call for calm and said it was "in solidarity with peaceful citizen action across the country today".

"We are now seeing the results of a volatility that has been building for some time and that every one has been very complacent about", said Piers Pigou, an expert in Zimbabwe with the International Crisis Group.

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The president's announcement came after fuel shortages which began in October past year worsened in recent weeks with motorists sometimes spending nights in fuel pump queues that stretch for kilometres.

"You can't have a country where people sleep in cars for days for a commodity that should be readily available".

"These prices are predicated on the ruling official exchange rate of 1:1 between the Bond Note and the United States Dollar, and also on the need to keep fuel retailers viable".

"It's going to reduce demand for fuel because it's now a bit expensive and that will deal with speculative demand if it was there", said economist Godfrey Mugano.

Doctors in state hospital went on a 40-day strike beginning early December demanding salaries in USA dollars and improved work conditions.

The president warned that the government would deal harshly with "elements bent on taking advantage of the current fuel shortages to cause and sponsor unrest and instability in the country".

Mnangagwa said the details of the rebate system will be announced in due course.

Foreign embassies and tourists will buy fuel at designated service station for US$1,24 per litre of diesel and US$1,32 per litre for petrol "upon production of proper identification documents".