‘Let them eat cake?’ These South Africans are fed up with the rising cost of food

South Africans have not been mum on the soaring prices of food. File Picture: David Ritchie/ African News Agency (ANA)

South Africans have not been mum on the soaring prices of food. File Picture: David Ritchie/ African News Agency (ANA)

Published Oct 10, 2023


The prices of food and other necessities such as fuel, electricity have soared over the years.

This is why experts say there is a cost of living crisis. This is a time in which the expenses of daily necessities such as food and bills rises faster than average family income.

South Africans have not been mum on this phenomenon and want the government to help, especially those who are living in poverty and can not afford to feed themselves and their families.

These young people spoke to IOL about the crisis.

Nozipho Mnisi, a 25-year-old unemployed graduate said the situation is dire. She compared it to the period prior to the French Revolution.

“They might as well say, ‘let them eat cake’. The rich have become richer while the poor languish in poverty. Now we have to choose between buying food or paying rent. This country is f***** up,” said the Durban resident.

For Njabulo Mtolo, a cashier who works at a shop he did not want to disclose in the south of the city, things have become unbearable.

“I used to be able to support myself and my child on my relatively low salary. I thought I was struggling then, but now I think it was not as bad as compared to now,” Mtolo said.

“I have given up on the government. I don’t think they are capable or even want to help. I am not excusing it at all, but no wonder people looted in 2021.”

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana has maintained that the National Treasury would not expand the basket of food to be zero-rated in order to reduce the expense of life for the poor.

“The analysis of the independent panel in 2018 indicated that extending zero-rating to further food items would be inefficient, since high-income households tend to benefit more from such measures,” said the minister.

However, this has provided little comfort.

“It is hard, we can barely afford monthly groceries or have savings, food prices are constantly going up each time you go to the shops, what you paid for last time you visited the shop is now more, each time you are removing items in your cart, it is hard as the rate at which salaries increase is not comparable,” commented *Jabu, a tertiary student.

“I have even had to cut down on going out, umuntu mase enga affordi ne Honchos (when one cannot even afford buying from the Honchos restaurants). I now cook at home.”

*Name changed for privacy.