Daniel Nemukuyu Investigations and Special Reports Editor
FORTY-TWO local fuel companies have been asked to explain their dealings as the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), in conjunction with foreign law enforcement agencies, investigate the smuggling of fuel from Zimbabwe to South Africa, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The companies were given up to January 24 to submit all papers relating to the importation of petrol and diesel between January 2018 and December 2019.
Complex cartels are reportedly importing fuel from Mozambique at prices in the region of US50 cents per litre before taking it to neighbouring countries using forged export documents.
Big names are being implicated in the smuggling racket though the value of fuel smuggled out of Zimbabwe is yet to be established.
ZACC chairperson Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo yesterday said the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) was also assisting to unearth evidence of fuel smuggling.
“ZACC and ZIMRA have been conducting an investigation into reports received, indicating that there has been a massive and expansive operation involving smuggling of significant volumes of fuel, mainly diesel and petrol through a number of our ports of entry.
“Investigations carried out thus far reveal the existence of a criminal fuel smuggling syndicate involving entities that are registered in Zimbabwe and in a neighbouring country.
“This criminal project has been in operation for a period of two years and its activities have caused financial prejudice to the Government of Zimbabwe and that of the neighbouring country,” said Justice Matanda-Moyo.
Fuel prices in Zimbabwe are arguably the lowest in the region, making unscrupulous dealers divert diesel and petrol to foreign markets where they fetch more.
Some of the fuel is sold locally, but strictly in foreign currency.
ZACC has instituted the investigation at a time when over 25 million litres of fuel smuggled from Zimbabwe was being held by the police in South Africa.
ZACC has since asked 42 companies registered in Zimbabwe to furnish investigators with documentation relating to their fuel dealings.
The companies are: Global Oil, Com Oil Petrol, Victoria Falls Truck, Unique Jay, Nansane (Rosmitrick), Bankable Resources, Silver Air, Timkase Investments, Dexfueld Pvt Ltd, Chilota Mine, Mann Aggregates, Matriflex Oils, Bresville Investments, Fastlane Petroleum, Couderay Oil, Outrech Comm, Plulixey Petroleum, Bantu Africa Mining, Valley Field Holdings, Takunda Fuel Services, Musa Petroleum, Einstein Energy, Kinsey Mining, Emirates Valley, Afrifor, Megabest, Nelich Investments, BOL Supplies, Traderose Investments, Coalvart Enterprises, Kit Kat Enterprises, Skybuild Construction, Elkrus Pvt Limited, Getmack Fuels, Falika Pvt Ltd, Bustque, Talebrant Investments, Peritus, Downtown Fuel, Valbazen Enterprises, Quick Gases and Roomi Truckshop.
“The companies listed above should submit documents relating to their importation of diesel and petrol for the period stretching from January 2018 to December 2019.
“The papers are to be submitted to the chairperson of ZACC Justice Matanda Moyo’s office at Mt Pleasant Business Park by Friday next week.”
ZACC appealed for cooperation from people with information relevant to the investigation.
“ZACC is appealing to the public to come forward with any information that they might have pertaining to the smuggling of fuel into and out of Zimbabwe.
“The success of the investigation in question and the prosecution of the smuggling culprits will depend, to a large extent, on the cooperation of the public in this matter,” said Justice Matanda-Moyo.
ZIMRA recently cornered fuel dealers who used to divert fuel to the black market by adopting the Electronic Cargo Tracking System (ECTS) which tracks fuel tankers to their indicated destinations.
This resulted in some of the dealers chickening out, leading to the National Oil Infrastructure Company of Zimbabwe (NOIC) recording declining figures on those requesting the product.
ECTS managed to reduce cases of diversion of fuel from NOIC depots, transit fraud and the dumping of illegal fuel imports on the domestic market.
Two Zimbabweans were recently arrested in South Africa for allegedly stealing fuel worth more than R3 million at a Transnet station in Warden, Free State.
A Hawks team arrested the pair, aged 38 and 43 after a tip-off that four tankers were reportedly transporting the fuel to Gauteng.
Four tankers laden with stolen diesel and petrol were intercepted near a farm in Presentkraal Street.
They were charged with theft and damaging essential infrastructure.