Fuel hike will cripple the middle class, says Saftu

Saftu general-secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. Picture: Itumeleng English/Africa News Agency (ANA)

Saftu general-secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. Picture: Itumeleng English/Africa News Agency (ANA)

Published Feb 7, 2024


The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) says the petrol increase would disproportionately impact families of poor workers who have been forced to rely on road transport due to the collapse of the Passenger Railway of South Africa (Prasa).

The federation’s general-secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said on Wednesday this was certainly going to add to the already burdened middle-class households who were languishing in unsustainable debt due to high debt servicing costs.

“We are deeply concerned over the recent announcement of petrol and diesel price hikes, set to take effect on Wednesday (07 Feb 2024). The increase, with unleaded petrol rising by 75c a litre and diesel by up to 73c a litre, poses significant challenges to the already burdensome high cost of living experienced by South African working people.

“These hikes will undoubtedly have an effect on the everyday lives of motorists and commuters. The inland prices of 95 unleaded petrol going up to R23.24 a litre and diesel prices soaring to R21.36 a litre, will heighten the financial strain on households that are already grappling with economic pressures of high interest rates and food prices,” said Vavi.

On Tuesday, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe announced that the price of petrol and diesel increased by 70-75 cents on Wednesday, following the latest price adjustment.

Mantashe said the reasons for the latest price increases was as result of a 6% increase in Brent crude to $82.03 (R1 500) a barrel (from $77.35/barrel and) due to the geopolitical tensions in the Red Sea which have forced hundreds of ships carrying oil to re-route around Africa.

The federation reiterated that the impacts of the hikes would be felt more on the prices of paraffin and gas.

Due to the implementation of stage six load shedding, consumers were forced to use alternative means of energy such as gas, paraffin, and wood, which saw costs drastically increase because of its demand.

“As a federation committed to advocating for the rights and welfare of workers and marginalised communities, we call upon world governments to prohibit speculation on commodities such as oil.

“It is this exotic development in price gauging that also contributes to the volatility of fuel prices, especially when there is instability in some parts of the world.”

A 63-year-old Annah Selamolela of Tembisa, in Ekurhuleni, said life was better under the so-called “nine wasted years” as compared to the President Cyril Ramaphosa’s “new dawn”.

Selamolela said things were tougher these days as they must live from hand to mouth on a daily basis.

“We wake up very early to go fend for our families, and all that hard is hard for one to recognise as we only work for transportation and food.

“You can’t really point out what you have worked for apart from food and transportation. I travel from Tembisa to Pretoria every day, and I spent about R2 800 a month just on transport and there’s food and other expenses,” she exclaimed.

The Star

Sipho Jack

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