Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa pleading with him and his administration “to reduce fuel prices as a matter of urgency”.
“The people of South Africa are taking immense strain, with income per capita having dropped steadily over the past five years, due to our falling economy, while the cost of living continues to climb. People are already desperate, and your ANC government’s recent fuel price hikes are now effectively ‘kicking them while they’re down’,” Maimane wrote.
The leader of the official opposition in parliament said the fuel price hike would affect the poor and unemployed just like the VAT increase had done, which could lead to instability.
Maimane said R5.28 of the increased petrol price to R16.02 a litre went to the governing party, meaning the poor were paying for the ANC government’s “mismanagement and corruption”.
Last week, The ANC called on the government to manage fuel price increases.
“For the ANC to then call on the ANC government to lower the fuel increases is an added offence to the people. People may be struggling, but they are not fools. They can see very clearly that the ANC is trying to disassociate itself from its own governing failures. One-third (33%) of the fuel price goes straight to government, so this is in no way a matter that is beyond government control,” Maimane said.
The DA leader said his party suggested that the fuel price be reduced to R15 a litre, which could be achieved by decreasing the Road Accident Fund (RAF) and general fuel levy by 20%.
“We realise that scrapping the fuel levies entirely is not feasible. But bringing the price below R15 is certainly doable. Your government needs to balance its budget by cutting corruption and inefficiency, and by abandoning policy that harms our economy. Not by dipping into the pockets of the poor,” the letter reads.
Maimane said in the coming weeks he would meet with members of taxi associations to urge them to back the plea for a fuel price reduction and pressure the government into ensuring that this is implemented.
Last week, IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa wrote to National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete requesting a parliamentary debate on the increasing fuel price.
Maimane said the DA had called on an urgent parliamentary debate on the “optimal structuring of fuel taxes”.
Meanwhile, Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said the National Treasury’s advisory panel on zero-rated VAT items was considering the impact of fuel prices on the poor.
Furthermore, parliament’s select committee on economic and business development welcomed Ramaphosa’s announcement on Friday that government would, in two weeks’ time, announce a package of economic measures to cushion the public from fuel price hikes and the VAT increase.
In a statement, chairperson of the select committee on economic and business development Mandla Rayi said: “It has never happened that a head of state will go this far, and this kind of commitment to a nation is most welcome. This is appreciated, especially if one looks at the impact these fuel hikes will have on small struggling businesses. The fuel price hikes were likely to impact negatively on economic growth and menial jobs.”
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