One cannot help but wonder at the timing of the upcoming fuel price hike, given that the incredibly lucrative silly season is a few weeks away, says the writer. File picture: Reuters
Johannesburg - Another fuel price adjustment is on the cards, but this time it is in the form of a massive decrease. One cannot help but wonder at the timing of the upcoming one, given that the incredibly lucrative silly season is a few weeks away. 

When consumers are expected to tighten their belts, spending usually slows down. But this slowing down of spending spells disaster if it coincides with the period most synonymous with reckless spending, which can and does help kick-start the ailing economy.

From March, fuel has increased from R14.20 to the current R16.85. The Christmas break comes with massive cash injections into the economies of KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Eastern Cape, and the Western Cape with modern day migrant workers heading home for the holidays.

However, this will likely not happen if food and fuel prices increase. Politicians see fuel as a sort of trump card that they hold against the people.

However, we dig deeper into questioning our leaders and politicians when their decisions directly affect our pockets.

South Africa has options. For decades, we have had the opportunity to source our oil from the continent especially from Angola and Nigeria. Since 1994, the continent has been championing building regional economic communities as building blocks for continental integration and intra-African trade as envisioned by Ghanaian politician Kwame Nkrumah.

Currently, only 20% constitutes trade among Africans. Regardless of many gatherings in Addis Ababa of our heads of state and government to deliberate ways and means of uniting Africans, AU member states trade more with countries outside the continent than fellow African countries. It appears we still cannot find ways to make it work. 

Perhaps there is a need to educate ourselves and our country on reasons for choosing foreign oil from far away partners, but beyond this, there are even more urgent questions around the costs of energy and development.

There is no country that can promote and drive development without the reasonable pricing of oil. Beyond the transport conundrum (public transport increases, private car expenses, diesel pricing) we also fall prey to the rising prices of goods and follow on increases. This directly affects the efforts of government to build small and medium businesses. Unemployment remains alarmingly high, with the latest figures showing 27.5% and notwithstanding the fact that South Africa has one of the highest unemployment rates for youth in the world.

Let us not forget, three years before the current VBS bank heist, there was another oil robbery staged in South Africa by those leaders we entrusted with our votes. The South African Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF) illegally emptied 10 million barrels of the oil reserves at $28 per barrel while the global price of oil was at $40 per barrel.

South Africa should seriously consider abandoning importing oil from the unstable and increasingly volatile regions in the world such as the Middle East. The US could go to war with Iran. Saudi Arabia’s regional destabilisation policy in Yemen and across the region will accelerate with no end in sight. This means South Africa should prepare alternative ways and means to mitigate against high oil prices.

To do so, oil robbers who staged a heist three years ago at SFF, should face the might of the law. Efforts should be taken by government to manage efficiently our oil reserves. Pretoria should work closely with the Angolan government to build oil pipelines and boost trade between the two countries. The Inga Dam in the DRC should be competed. While doing this, perhaps add an additional water pipeline to Johannesburg before its own Day Zero kicks in.

* Monyae is a senior political analyst at the University of Johannesburg.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.