The spiralling fuel increases are pretty much out of government's hands, economic development minister Ebrahim Patel insists. According to Business Day, Patel claims that the increases are in line with the global average and is still among the lowest in the world when compared with non-oil producing countries.
On Sunday, the department of energy announced yet another fuel price hike, which came into effect on Wednesday. Both grades of petrol, 93 and 95 (ULP and LRP), have increased by 26c and 23c a litre respectively.
The department blamed the price hike on the rand, which weakened from R12.51 to R13.29 to the dollar during the period under review. "This led to a higher contribution to the Basic Fuel Prices on petrol, diesel and illuminating paraffin by 43.21c/l, 44.36c/l and 44.62c/l respectively," the department said.
According to the department, lower crude oil prices and import prices of petroleum products also contributed to the hike. "The market has started to become worried about the effect that the trade war between the USA and China will have on the global economy," the statement read.
In response to a written question by the EFF in Parliament on Tuesday, according to Business Day, Patel alleged that fuel inflation was not something government could control.
He reportedly said: "The change in the price of petrol is typically a function of both changes in international exchange rates [particularly the US dollar-rand exchange rate] and the change in international product prices [particularly crude oil]."
The increase is set to hit workers and the poor the hardest. The Truckers Association of South Africa's Mary Phadi told eNCA that the increases were resulting in job losses.
"Truckers in this country are not happy. Even yesterday [Monday], some were saying this is it ... they have already retrenched drivers so it is definitely going to be very bad. Very, very bad," said Phadi.
The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) says the working class will bear the brunt of the fuel price increases, according to Eyewitness News.
Saftu's Zwelinzima Vavi reportedly said the problem was that salaries were increasing.
"If you see a decline in the wages, can you imagine what will be the impact of the petrol increase a few weeks ago and tonight?" he reportedly said.