Less than a week ago, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) reached out to the Speaker’s Office to request a Debate of National Importance relating to the fuel price, and the multiple levies that add to the cost to the consumer.
Our motivation for this request was the hope that we could find a way forward wherein government could consider re-structuring – and reducing – the additional burden imposed by the levies, which amount to more than a third of the cost of each litre of fuel.
It is of great disappointment to the IFP that the Speaker’s Office refused our request, and suggested we raise the matter directly in the House during the week’s Plenary sessions. Possibly, the Speaker was unaware – but the issue was raised during the week’s debates, yet the Deputy Minister of Finance flatly ignored the question.
To further add insult to injury, the nation was then advised that the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) had made an error with the fuel price increase. This resulted in millions of South Africans paying even more than was necessary.
As the IFP, we find all the above to be indicative of a ruling party that is out of touch with the needs of the people.
We are in support of the calls by the Automobile Association (AA), as well as other civil society organisations that are asking for “a total review of the fuel price and an audit of all the components and processes that comprise the fuel price”.
Although the DMRE stated that this was “the very first time” that they had announced an inflated fuel price increase, this unacceptable error does not inspire confidence, and one wonders what other errors and miscalculations might have occurred in the past.
Thanks, in part, to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have a fragile economy, with millions of South Africans living from hand-to-mouth. Government can find millions in the budget for Covid relief yet are unwilling to restructure – and reduce – the fuel price.
Government seems content to leave the man and woman on the street to absorb the impact of these increases, which are not only felt at the fuel pump. The ripple effects reach the tills in the supermarket, where food prices go up yet again; they impact farmers, and in turn, the price of goods; it further directly impacts the cost of public transport. As ever, it is the poorest of the poor who will suffer.
The IFP will use every avenue available to us to pursue this matter, including in Parliament in the coming week. Government must be held accountable. The IFP has heard the cry of our communities, and we will not let this matter rest.
Hon. Narend Singh, MP
IFP Chief Whip in Parliament
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