We are not helpless in face of fuel price hikes - Gavin Davis

DA MP says ANC govt has let the rand plummet since President Ramaphosa’s election





“Drop fuel price by cutting fat”


This is indeed a debate of urgent national importance. In fact, it is a crisis.

This year, the petrol price has risen from R721 for a 50-litre tank to R804. That is an increase of R83 every time you fill up your car.

Families are struggling to put bread on the table; they simply can’t afford to pay these exorbitant fuel and transport costs.

The ANC has told us today that this crisis is not of their making; they will point to the high global oil price and turmoil in emerging market currencies; they will say that we are helpless victims of global events beyond our control.

However, we all know that this is not true. We are not helpless and we are not blameless.

The truth is that the ANC does have control over its policy choices and the impact of these choice on our currency, and therefore the fuel price.

It is a fact that, on 31 July, when President Ramaphosa made a late-night television announcement supporting Expropriation without Compensation, the Rand plunged by 31c to the Dollar.

It is a fact that the election of state capture merchants like Ace Magashule David Mabuza quickly killed off the phenomenon known as ‘Ramaphoria’ and any potential green shoots of economic recovery.

It is also a fact that proposed economic policies like the nationalization of the reserve bank and the establishment of a state bank do nothing to inspire economic confidence, and do everything to undermine it.

This is why the Rand has fallen more steeply than other emerging market currencies, and this is why our fuel price is so high.

I hope Minister Mokonyane now understands that when the Rand falls, you can’t just pick it up.

House Chairperson, make no mistake, the high fuel price is a crisis of the ANC’s making.

Not only has the ANC government let the rand plummet since President Ramaphosa’s election, it has slapped a R5.30 fuel levy on every litre of petrol.

R1.93 goes to fund the corrupt, inefficient and useless Road Accident Fund. And R3.37 goes into the black hole that is our national fiscus.

How is it that we are paying R5.30 on the fuel levy when, in Botswana, they pay just 40c? The price of petrol in Botswana is just R11.51 per litre – a full R5.00 cheaper per litre than it is here.

Speaker, there is no question that government must urgently reduce the fuel levy.

The DA has a proposal to slash the fuel levy by 20% which would cut the cost of petrol by R1,06 for every litre.

To fund this reduction, government would need to find around R 15 billion.

This is tough, but not impossible.

Instead of spending billions on a bloated Cabinet full of incompetent Ministers and their VIP security, luxury cars and big houses, we could use that money to cut the fuel price.

Instead of using R59 billion to bail out failing parastatals we could sell them off and use that money to reduce fuel costs.

Instead of allowing Eskom to keep pushing up electricity prices to pay off its escalating debt, we could unbundle Eskom and use some of that money to reduce the price of petrol.

There are many solutions we can come up with, and there are many solutions that the DA has put forward. But the core problem remains: this government has demonstrated zero political will to solve the fuel crisis.

Let me give you an example.

On 14 August, Minister Radebe was scheduled to meet with the Portfolio Committee to brief us on the fuel price. It was an embarrassment to his office and an insult to this Parliament that he did not turn up and didn’t even bother to send a delegation.

The Chairperson of our Committee, the Honourable Majola, was quite correct when he called the Minister’s no-show a “boycott”.

There was not much improvement the following week when Minister Radebe actually did arrive at the Portfolio Committee. Because he had nothing of substance to say, and could put no solutions on the table.

All Minister Radebe could say was that a Task Team had been set up between the Department of Energy and Treasury. But when we asked him about the remit of the Task Team, he revealed that there had been no discussion at all about reducing the fuel levy. And so, we are left wondering exactly what is being discussed with Treasury, and whether there is any real commitment to reduce the price of petrol.

Speaker, in a few weeks, this House will be debating the adjusted budget as part of the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement process. Before then, Minister Radebe needs to work urgently with Minister Nene to find a sustainable way to cut the fuel levy in the adjusted budget.

The ANC must take responsibility for the fuel crisis. And then the ANC needs to find the political will to reduce fuel costs, stabilise the economy and make life better for every South African.

I thank you.