Zimbabwe ‘closes petrol stations insisting on cash’

Several fuel stations in Zimbabwe have been closed down by the authorities for refusing to accept electronic payments from motorists, the country’s state-run Herald newspaper reports.

The garages, two in the capital, Harare, and one about 50km (31 miles) to its west of the city, wanted customers to pay for their petrol in hard cash, the paper says.

In June, the government banned trading in foreign currencies, and reintroduced the Zimbabwe dollar as the sole legal tender.

This has exacerbated inflation and shortages such as petrol – motorists often have to queue for hours to get fuel.

There is also a physical shortage of Zimbabwean dollar cash notes – withdrawals are limited by banks, and goods in shops are often sold at cheaper prices if one pays in cash.

According to the Herald, Energy Minister Fortune Chasi said that some garage owners insisted on cash payments to enable them to buy foreign currency on the black market

Importers struggle to get official access to foreign exchange such as the US dollar to buy goods from abroad.

Mr Chasi is quoted as saying that those in the fuel industry had already been warned about “unbecoming behaviour”.

He reportedly said that the licences for fuel stations found to be breaking the law would be revoked as a way of restoring stability to the energy sector.

“This cannot go on and one hopes that other operators will learn something from the action that has been taken and is being taken,” he said.

The newspaper reported that some petrol stations in the capital were still insisting on cash payments on Tuesday night, with a few others only accepting payment in US dollars.

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