MBABANE: Finance Minister Neal Rijikernberg’s delay in issuing permits to oil companies to import fuel from Mozambique has manifested into a fuel crisis in eSwatini.
This comes after the Minister allegedly introduced policies that seek to discourage the importation of fuel from countries outside the Southern African Customs Union(SACU), Galp was importing fuel from Mozambique, a neighboring country to eSwatini that is not a member of SACU.
It has been disclosed that the Minister who doubles as a businessman encouraged the importation of fuel from South Africa to boost eSwatini’s SACU receipts, however, suppliers in that country allegedly stopped supplying eSwatini temporarily, while sorting some issues with the South African Revenue Service(SARS).
Reached for comments,Fanie Mthethwa, the Galp Sales and Marketing Director said South African suppliers have stopped supplying fuel to the country and the Ministry of Finance was reluctant to issue fuel import permits to oil companies that wanted to import products from Mozambique, this resulted to the current fuel crisis.
"The shortage of fuel is specifically for Petrol Unleaded 95 and not Diesel. This is due to a delayed issuance of an import permit upload from the Ministry of Finance which in turn delayed our search and securing of product from Mozambique whilst South African supplies are currently unable to supply product.The suppliers are not renewing supply contracts due to a stalemate they have with SARS with regard to continuing delays to process their DAS (duty at source) refunds upon export of product to neighboring countries. These delays are continuously beyond 90 days .
Eswatini government introduced fuel import quotas from all non-SACU products in August 2020 to scale down product from Mozambique and force Oil companies to focus on South African product hence we now have recurring fuel supply shocks”, he said.
Finance Minister Neal Rijikernberg declined to comment when reached for comments by this publication.
Pius Vilakati, the Spokesperson of the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) said the uprising in this country was bearing fruits and urged emaSwati to intensify the struggle for democracy.
"The crisis is far deeper. In addition to the financial and or import permits crisis, the uprising in Swaziland is now bearing fruits. South African delivery trucks safety can no longer be guaranteed as long as the regime maintains power. The Communist Party of Swaziland calls upon the people of Swaziland to continue with the blockades, in line with the ‘Democracy Now campaign", said the CPS Spokesperson
Reached for comments, Mduduzi Magawugawu Simelane, the President of the Swaziland Liberation Movement(SWALIMO) confirmed that the Finance Minister introduced policies that discouraged the sourcing of fuel from Mozambique.
“He introduced this to discourage the sourcing of fuel from Mozambique because Mozambique is not from SACU. South Africa is preferred because it is in SACU but unfortunately, South Africa cannot meet the demand. So the question of supply and demand was not considered by Neal”, said the SWALIMO President.
The fuel crisis comes after the same Finance Minister introduced policies that discouraged the importation of cars from countries outside SACU, this resulted in a major hike in import cars prices.