The fuel price protesters yesterday had clever slogans on their neatly printed placards – “Stop the Tax Attack!” and “Fuel Levy Too Heavy!”
Many at the protest in Pretoria were vocal in expressing their anger about increasing petrol, diesel and paraffin prices.
The problem was, though, there weren’t that many of them and the threatened closure of roads, along with the supposed presence of taxi associations, failed to materialise. That was not a bad thing, because protesting about a serious problem while infringing on the rights of others is just not right.
The fuel price is outrageously high – and that is because the ANC government continues to scalp anybody with money through the taxes and levies on every litre we buy. It is one of the easiest ways of raising a tax because there is a captive market. You cannot avoid or evade the fuel levy as you perhaps can by not paying your VAT (if you have a business) or paying your full income tax.
The awful reality is that the government has come to rely on this regular monetary drip feed and cutting it back drastically will result in pain somewhere else in the system – most probably by those who rely on government money, in one way or another, to survive.
So, cutting the levies is not really practical – at least not to the extent proposed – unless alternative revenue streams can be put in place. On the other hand, it is true that government waste, inefficiency and corruption are draining our coffers, so the calls for cuts in state spending do have merit.
However, we think the protesters are overly optimistic in thinking the fuel price issue will see the ANC removed from power next year.
South Africans are like battered spouses – still in love with their abusers.