Zimbabwe is on a three-day nationwide strike and protests are erupting in the streets after the government of the southern African country doubled fuel prices, making gasoline sold in Zimbabwe the most expensive gasoline in the world.
Zimbabwe is in the midst of an economic crisis and a shortage of foreign exchange, which has led to fuel and bread shortages, and many companies have stopped working because they can’t import raw materials.
Following hyperinflation in 2009, Zimbabwe abolished its own currency and has been using the U.S. dollar and South African rand instead.
But the economic crisis and foreign currency shortages has prompted the government to say over the weekend that it would introduce a new currency of its own in the next 12 months.
However, the policy that really sparked protests and calls for a national stay-away was the sharp increase of fuel prices over the weekend.
According to Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa—who succeeded the president of 38 years Robert Mugabe in November 2017—the doubling of the fuel prices would help ease fuel shortages.
In a post on his official Facebook page, Mnangagwa wrote on Sunday:
“Following the current shortfall in the fuel market, we have chosen to act, and act decisively. The shortage, attributable to increased fuel usage in the growing economy, and compounded by rampant illegal currency and fuel trading activities, is unsustainable and Government has today decided on the following measures:
A fuel pump price set at $3.11 per litre for diesel, and $3.33 per litre for petrol.”
The gasoline price of $3.33 per liter is now the world’s highest.
According to data from GlobalPetrolprices.com, as of January 7, 2019, the world’s average gasoline price was $1.08 per liter, or $4.09 per gallon. The most expensive gasoline in the world before the Zimbabwean price hike was in Hong Kong where a gallon of gas goes for $7.71.
In Zimbabwe, the trade unions and the main confederation of industries called for the three-day strike and say it has been a success so far.
“So far the stay-away has been effective,” Peter Mutasa, president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, told Bloomberg on the phone.
The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries said in a letter to the Industry Ministry that “The house is burning,” as many businesses are collapsing or on the verge of collapsing due to the lack of foreign exchange funds and economic chaos. By Tsvetana Paraskova