Picture: Neil Baynes/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Johannesburg - The African National Congress (ANC) on Wednesday, said the rate at which costs were increasing in South Africa is unbearable and said strong action was needed after the July fuel increase.

"Fuel price hikes impact directly on the lives of the poor as the monopolistic food outlets pass the transport costs to them. The energy cost also increases," ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe said in a statement. 

"The rate at which these cost increases are happening is unbearable and we can neither turn a blind eye nor wish them away. We need to take strong action to arrest this situation."

Motorists are feeling the pinch as yet another fuel hike hit the country at midnight on Tuesday. Petrol went up by 26 cents a litre for 93 octane and 95 octane by 23 cents. Diesel went up by 26 cents a litre. The department of energy said the price hike can be attributed to the depreciating rand against the US dollar, the decrease in the price of crude oil and the impact of petroleum product prices.

The increase has sent fuel prices to a record R16 a litre.

Mabe said that the ANC noted with "deep concern the continued weakening of the rand and the implications thereof for our country’s growth prospects and inflation targeting".

He said the party was further concerned by the fuel hikes which are now at its highest level ever.

Mabe said the party accepted that the rand depreciation was beyond their control and was largely fuelled by the United States (US) trade wars; the selling of assets in emerging markets, portfolio outflows, and that they accepted that the fuel price increase was "inevitable due to global crude oil prices increases".

The party called on US to consider the unintended consequences of its trade wars and the ripple effects its imposition of sanctions on some oil-producing countries have on emerging economies. 

"We also join the call on the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to help lower fuel prices by increasing oil production.  We believe there is more that could be done to reignite and accelerate economic growth, and to soften or lessen the effect petrol price increases have on our people and on the economy. We must do more to address structural problems facing our economy, increase foreign exports and investor confidence," Mabe said.

"The ANC led government must mitigate the short and long term effects the fuel price hikes have on South Africans and our economy. We call on our government to increase our petrol reserves, seriously consider freezing or decreasing the fuel levy, and to further stabilise governance and finances at the Road Accident Fund, PetroSA and Central Energy Fund."

Earlier, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) urged the South African government to intervene in the rising fuel prices to soften the impact on consumers.

Party member of Parliament (MP) Mkhuleko Hlengwa said he wrote to National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete on Monday requesting a debate on the increasing fuel price. 

He said Mbete should table a motion to suspend fuel levies.

''I write to you in respect of the above and more particularly in request that you schedule without delay an urgent matter of national public importance for discussion by the House [Rule 130(1)] on the extremely concerning and prevailing price hike in fuel, and the deleterious effects this will have not only on the South African economy at large, but more importantly, on the welfare of ordinary South African citizens who will once again bear the final brunt of the increase of costs to business, who will simply pass such costs increases onto the consumer,'' Hlengwa said in the letter.

''This debate is most necessary at this juncture as I believe alternative means can be found by government to subsidise this increase in costs.''

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) also decried the consumers' burden of having to pay more for transport, food and other necessities as a result of the fuel hike.

''Therefore for a government that crippled state institutions by stealing billions of rands through corruption, resorting to raise revenue through hiking petrol prices is a desperate measure coming of total disregard for ordinary people. This is all the while big business is protected and its contribution to the revenue through corporate income tax is not even touched...all the burden for revenue collection is placed on the already overburdened ordinary workers who earn next to nothing.''

African News Agency/ANA