Johannesburg - In South Africa, rocketing food prices remain a crushing reality for millions of people who either have no money or are fighting to subsist on the minimal necessities.
Statistics SA has reported that food prices have increased by an average of 14% over the past year, which is the largest annual increase since March 2009.
According to Brett Herron, GOOD Party secretary-general and Member of Parliament, despite being confronted with these dismal figures, the state appears unconcerned about failing to meet their constitutional commitment to provide residents with the bare necessities of survival.
"Not only did President Cyril Ramaphosa miss an opportunity to prioritise poverty alleviation by implementing a basic income grant during his SONA this year, but there was also no announcement of even the slightest increase in the R350 grant," he said.
"This so-called social relief of distress grant, introduced during the pandemic, reaches around eight million people. But the R350 payouts fall far short of the official R663 per person, per month food poverty line.
"It is unacceptable that the most basic social needs of the most vulnerable members of our society are not being met, an infringement on their constitutional rights."
Herron added that the trajectory for South Africa of growing inequality and deepening poverty was unsustainable.
"What level of poverty, hunger and inequality does South Africa have to reach before our leaders act?"
"Our leaders would be wise to not continue turning the other way but rather demonstrate their consciousness of the importance of this matter, starting with finally announcing plans and time frames for the introduction of a basic income grant."
"GOOD has conducted significant research proving that this is possible, as part of a comprehensive overhaul of our social security programme," said Herron.
According to DA leader John Steenhuisen MP,, food price hikes have been a massive catastrophe for poor households and are causing widespread, severe and unnecessary suffering.
He said the DA has consistently proposed a workable response to the cost of living crisis, including in our Alternative Budget in February.
"To bring immediate relief from hunger, the government should expand the list of VAT-free foods to include essential items like bone-in chicken, beef, tinned beans, wheat flour, margarine, peanut butter, baby food, tea, coffee and soup powder."
"This would alleviate the burden on the poorest 50% of South Africans, who are disproportionately affected by the VAT on these items."
He added that the government should also reduce fuel levies and increase solar tax rebates to bring further relief to household budgets, reduce the high cost of transporting food, and alleviate the energy crisis that is crippling our economy.
"Millions of jobs will be created in South Africa if we make it a place that attracts investment and scarce skills, a place where small businesses can easily start and grow."
"Getting people back on their feet by getting them into jobs is the best way to build resilience against hunger," said Steenhuisen.