Another month, another fuel price hike. At this point, such news is no longer shocking. Since May the country has had to endure a new hike every month to the point where it would now be more surprising if there wasn’t one in November.
People are understandably upset. After all, watching your money get thrown into a hole that only seems to get deeper every day, is painful no matter who you are.
Like all tax increases of this nature, however, it is the poor who end up getting hit the hardest. Thanks to the mass dislocation of communities under the apartheid regime, most poor and working-class families continue to live far away from economic opportunities, forcing them to travel long distances to and from work.
Whether they use a taxi or their own vehicle, it still means they have to dedicate a larger percentage of their already tight budget just to get around, leaving less money available for other necessities.
And this is just transport. Let’s not forget that the fuel hike extends to illuminating paraffin, which many households rely on to cook their food and warm their homes, so now families are digging deep just to not freeze at night.
It’s all part of a vicious cycle, one that is exacerbated by a stumbling economy, stagnating wages, and a rising cost of living.
President Ramaphosa has been vocal about his commitment to combating poverty, but whether this translates into effective action remains to be seen. In the meantime, the poor and working class will continue to bear the brunt of the crisis.