17 January 2014, Harare – The Zimbabwean government will not reverse the mandatory blending of petrol with ethanol as the measure was taken to reduce the fuel importation bill, preserve environment, create jobs and to economically empower local people, a Cabinet minister has said.Petrol blending was officially introduced in November last year. Some motorists have accused Government of rushing the regulation for mandatory blending.
Energy and Power Development Minister Dzikamayi Mavhaire said Government acted in the interest of the public when it came up with mandatory blending of petrol.
He was responding to an application by a Harare resident Mr Thabani Mpofu who is suing the minister, Zimbabwe Electricity Regulatory Authority and Green Fuels over petrol blending.
Mpofu filed a constitutional application challenging Green Fuels’ “monopoly and blending ratios” to levels beyond E10 last month.
He contends that compulsory blending effectively bans unleaded fuel in the country.
He further argued that Green Fuels’ monopoly and blending ratios do not guarantee fair competition and are not in the interest of the motorists.
Mr Mpofu is of the view mandatory blending infringes on people’s rights as enshrined in the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
Minister Mavhaire contends that mandatory blending was not unprecedented in the history of Zimbabwe.
He says from the 1970s to early 90s there had been mandatory blending.
“The reason why the use of blending petrol was abandoned has nothing to do with the reasons complained of by the applicant (Mr Mpofu) but on drought that made ethanol unavailable in large enough volumes,” he said.
He disputes the mandatory blending infringed on Mr Mpofu’s “freedom of choice”.
“There is no freedom of choice in the constitution and the applicant makes sad allegations without supporting evidence . . . ,” argues the minister.
“I dispute that the applicant has a constitutional right to freedom of choice over fuel. He further argues that allegations by Mr Mpofu that the regulations making petrol blending mandatory were made at the “stroke of a pen” were unfounded because there were promulgated after an extensive consultations and research in terms of the enabling Act.
ZERA, which is being represented by Mr Ralph Tsivama of Sawyer and Mkushi, also filed its opposing papers in the matter. It argues that mandatory blending was in the interest of the nation and promotes usage of bio-fuels that are environmentally friendly.
“It was therefore imperative that Government becomes a part of the ethanol project for national benefit,” argues ZERA.
According to a research done by Engineer Clement Shonhiwa from the University of Zimbabwe’s Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, petrol blends of between E5 and E10 may be used in a vehicle without any adjustment to the vehicle. Such blends were in use in various countries across the globe and are an acceptable vehicle propellant.
– The Herald