CONFEDERATION of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) has accused local oil producers
of not being honest about their “real” capacity amid persistent cooking
As a result, prices of cooking oil have gone up, with rationing of the product evident in most supermarkets.
CZR president, Denford Mutashu told NewsDay that in response to the crisis, he contacted the few local cooking oil suppliers on Saturday, who told him they were not responsible for the price increases.
“I enquired with the local oil processing companies Surface and Zimgold and they acknowledged the shortages, but denied they had increased prices. They said those selling at higher prices were not getting the oil from them. Whenever they do not have capacity, they should be open and honest with government to allow imports to avoid shortages,” he said.
“They still insist they have capacity, but also blamed the delays in payments on their crude suppliers outside the country. But that’s a tired excuse. The poor consumer on the street wants cooking oil.”
Mutashu said if local manufacturers have no capacity, they should tell government to allow importation of the product. Currently, importation of cooking oil attracts high duty, as government felt local manufacturers have the capacity to supply the market and even export into the region.
The only cooking oil brands available in retail stores are Better Buy, manufactured by National Foods Limited, Roil by United Refineries Limited and Zimgold by Pure Oil Industries.
On average, eight to 10 million litres of cooking oil are produced by the sector monthly of which a drop of between 20% to 30% is expected.
But United Refineries Limited chief executive officer, Busisa Moyo said the statement was untrue and mischievous.
“They [CZR] have not engaged us on this at all and neither have they toured our plants since they were formed as an association a year ago. The statement is untrue and mischievous. We have been supplying local wholesalers, retailers and informal traders and are now considering exports since last year because of overcapacity and this is before Olivine and Willowton came onto the scene,” he said.
“We have been in touch with the Retailers Association of Zimbabwe (RAZ), whose membership moves circa 85% of our products and they are aware of the root causes.”
Moyo said the payments to suppliers of raw materials (soya bean crude and soya beans) have not been moving and suppliers have had to cut back on deliveries resulting in shortages and they expect that to normalise in two weeks.
RAZ president, Themba Ndebele said his association was only approached yesterday about the cooking oil crisis, adding that cooking oil manufacturers have been in contact with his members.
“I have spoken to Moyo, who told me that the issue was not about lack of capacity, but an issue of delays in bank transfers to purchase the raw materials. From what he has told me, I have no objection to what he has said,” he said. newsday