Cablegate: Harare's Fuel Lines: It's Not Pretty
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS HARARE 002835
STATE FOR AF/S AND AF/EX
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER
USDOC FOR 2037 DIEMOND
PASS USTR ROSA WHITAKER
TREASURY FOR ED BARBER AND C WILKINSON
USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON
E. O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EPET EFIN ETRD AMGT ZI
SUBJECT: Harare's Fuel Lines: It's Not Pretty
Ref: Harare 2809
1. Summary: An informal poll of Embassy staff today
indicates that it remains very difficult to obtain fuel
in Harare. Nonetheless, several stations are pumping and
vehicles on the road have increased from approximately 25
to 50 percent of normal. End Summary.
2. Local staff say it has taken from 2-24 hours in line
to purchase fuel over the past few days. Many leave cars
unattended in gas lines and pay local "touts" to contact
them when the precious stuff arrives. There are reports
of frustratingly-long unfruitful stints. Here's what a
few local employees told us today:
"This morning I had to pass through one of the few
service stations which had the precious liquid to give a
friend some food. He slept there last night having joined
the queue at about 3:00 pm yesterday. When I saw him at
seven in the morning he had been in that one place for
sixteen hours. For the whole time there was no fuel. It
was expected at about eight o'clock this morning. The
fuel station as is expected, is owned by a member of the
"Last Sunday I waited for 5 hours at a service station
but got nothing. A lot of people are waiting for under
two hours and getting nothing."
"Some of my colleagues have had to spend the whole night
at these queues hoping that fuel will be delivered the
next day. On average one would need to spend 12 to 18
hours queuing for the precious liquid."
"I have been looking for diesel since Saturday last week.
I spent 3 hours on Saturday and the product ran out two
cars before I could be served. On Sunday, I spent 2
hours at [one station] and another 3 hours at [another
station] and again diesel ran out before I could be
served. The same story happened on Tuesday and Wednesday
night after work."
Note: The Embassy sells fuel to employees, but at about
10-fold the local subsidized price. For that reason,
many employees still try to procure it on the economy.
3. It seems every Zimbabwean motorist has a fresh battle
story to tell. Parastatal NOCZIM is importing fuel but
unable to satisfy the heavy pent-up demand. Black-market
transactions are becoming more common, public transport
is sketchy and taxis have begun to charge about 5-times
the normal fare. We will continue to track this