Chris Moerdyk

Petrol price fuelling anarchy

2013-02-25 08:06

Chris Moerdyk

So, next week the petrol price in some parts of the country will break through the R13 barrier and nobody in government seems to be the least bit concerned let alone willing to do anything about it.

I find it remarkable that when it suits government to resort to socialism to control things it is done in a heartbeat. And when it doesn't suit them, they shrug and talk about the free market economy.

The problem is that for every cent that petrol and diesel prices increase, business just jacks up their prices as well which is all nice and free-markety and perfectly legal, but all over South Africa dozens, if not hundreds, probably thousands of poor families have one meal less a week.

It is a complete mystery to me that government cannot or will not, make the obvious connection between the massive in rise in violent labour strikes to the fact that ordinary South Africans just cannot survive on their wages anymore.

And anyone who shops for groceries will tell you that the inflation figures government puts out are absolute rubbish. The cost of a supermarket trolley-load is going up by the week.

Add to all this the rather silly situation where in places such as Namibia and Botswana that get their petrol and diesel supplies from South Africa, fuel prices are significantly cheaper than in this country.

It's a bit like finding out that the cost of an iPad in the USA is more expensive than it is in South Africa instead of the other way round.

And don't even start to talk about Sasol. I must say it irks me when I see the oil producing Gulf States making cheap petrol available to their citizens while Sasol, which was created out of taxpayers' money, just rubs its hands with glee and the extra profits that roll in because it sells its oil to local refineries at the same price as the global market.

The only conclusion that I can come to in all of this is that the ANC is confident that the majority of its supporters don't actually make the connection between high food prices, poor service delivery and rigged tenders with the cross they make next to the ANC when it comes to election time.

Proof of which was after the last municipal elections a poor community that voted the ANC back in went to the local ANC councillor's house a few days later and torched it in protest against poor service delivery.

The truth of the matter is that already expensive government resources are having to be used to quell and increasing number of violent labour disputes and service delivery protests.

It is going to get worse. It is going to get more violent. It is going to spread like a cancer.

And I believe, at the root of it all is the absolutely pathetic value of the Rand - already the worst performing currency in the developing world this year - and the rocketing price of petrol and diesel. Yes, I know our exporters are cheering and yes, I know they employ a lot of people but those who are suffering far outnumber those who might be benefitting.

Instead of trying to cure the cancer if a sick currency and ridiculous fuel prices with Elastoplast, government needs to urgently ask itself what the causes are.

And please, please, don't keep telling us that petrol is cheaper in South Africa than in Europe and the USA because anyone with half a brain knows that when you take the average income of people in those countries, the percentage of disposable income directly related to the fuel price is a lot lower there than here in South Africa.

The price of fuel is fuelling anarchy and government needs to take its head out of the sand before it destroys us all.
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