At a briefing on the fuel price on Tuesday morning, minister of energy Jeff Radebe said that international factors are to blame for a series of recent fuel hikes that have pushed the price to a record of over R15 a litre.
The minister blamed a list of factors for South Africa’s fuel woes, including political instability in countries such as Venezuala and Libya, the US policy towards Iran, the strained relationship between the US and Turkey, OPEC decisions and the recovery of the global economy.
Radebe admitted that the fuel hikes cannot be taken lightly.
“It’s a fact that the fuel price has reached it’s highest levels ever. This means a decrease in expendable household income. It’s a stress on the economy,” he said.
The minister patted himself and his department on the back for holding a meeting in a bid to try and find solutions that could ease the strain on the back pockets of ordinary South Africans.
“I’m pleased we’re meeting on this very important matter,” he said.
He also stressed that coming up with a solution will not be an easy matter.
“Resolving this challenge is not a quick fix but requires a multi- dimensional effort,” he added.
Whether people will accept Radebe’s reasoning is not yet clear.
At the beginning of August, a group of protesters said government was lying when it claimed fuel hikes were only influenced by the currency exchange rate, and that it would be “kicked out” next year should it fail to address the recent fuel hikes.
A fuel levy hike protest in Pretoria saw the Freedom Movement, led by DA leader Mmusi Maimane, picket outside the National Treasury at Church Square.
Hundreds of people with placards demanding the removal of the “tax attack” on consumers’ pockets, and stating the “fuel levy was too heavy”, took part in the demonstration. They were joined by various organisations, including the Freedom Front Plus and the African Christian Democratic Party.
The supporters were also angered by the taxi fare increase announced on Monday, which was one of the results of the recent fuel hikes.
Motlatsi Maake, an unemployed resident from the Lethabong informal settlement east of Pretoria, told The Citizen she would not again be voting for the ruling party if they continued to tax those living in poverty.
More recently, a hearse and coffin were focal points of a march in central Durban where protesters were calling for the “death” of high fuel prices.