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SA households struggle as fuel and food price hikes take their toll

The price of petrol and diesel will go up on Wednesday. File Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).

The price of petrol and diesel will go up on Wednesday. File Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).

Published Jul 5, 2022


Cape Town - South Africans will have to dig deeper into their pockets with another fuel increase on Wednesday, and households have been left wondering how they will survive this latest hike.

On Wednesday, the price of petrol is set to increase by R2.37 cents a litre for 93 octane, 95 octane will rise by R2,57 cents a litre. Diesel is going up by between R2,30 and R2,31 cents a litre.

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Fowzia Samsodien, 72, a pensioner from Claremont runs a household of three with her South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) pension.

Pensioners in South Africa receive R1 980 per month, if over 75 years old, grant beneficiaries receive R2 000.

Samsodien told IOL that she was having sleepless nights since the announcement of the latest fuel price hike.

“I have my two grandchildren living with me and I am already stressed on how I am going to stretch the little I have.

“In Cape Town, the electricity tariffs also just went up. This is just too much. It has become ridiculous.

“My biggest fear is running out of food for my babies,” she said.

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While she has tried starting a side hustle by selling baked goods, Samsodien said it has not been going too well.

“The ingredients are extremely expensive and quite frankly people cannot afford these luxuries anymore.

“Something has to be done to give our people some sort of relief,” she added.

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The June 2022 Household Affordability Index by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity (PMBEJD) states that South African households are now paying R4 688.81 on a household basket of 44 foods.

Households across the nation have seen an average increase of 1.7% of the food basket from R4 609.89 in May to R4 688.81 in June and an annual increase of 13.6%.

This remains worrying as food prices continue to increase with items such as cooking oil and rice reaching staggering prices.

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The Household Affordability Index has reported that 29 out of the 44 foods have increased in price.The most significant increases relate to cake flour, cooking oil, bread, onions and include maize meal, rice, and white sugar. Basic hygiene products have also soared in pricing.

The report also refers to Statistics South Africa’s latest Consumer Price Index for May 2022, showing that headline inflation was 6,5%, and for the lowest expenditure quintiles 1-3, it was 8%, 7,4% and 6,8% respectively. CPI food inflation was 7,8%. Public transport 12,5%, and electricity was 14,4%.

In June 2022, with 21-working days, the maximum national minimum wage for a general worker was R3 895.92.

The report found that food is bought after monies for transport and electricity have been paid or set aside (together averaging R2 075.50).

In June 2022, PMBEJD calculated that many families will underspend on food by 42.9%.

Economist Dawie Roodt told IOL that the nation’s biggest problem was that the government was spending too much money.

“Pressure needs to be put on government to spend less. Close the unnecessary departments. We [already] have a high unemployment and poverty rate. Weak economic growth, increasing food prices and absent politicians.

‘We are heading for serious trouble in South Africa. We have a government implementing wrong policies and creating an environment not conducive for economic growth. Fact is, the State needs to spend less money,” Roodt said.

But while the economy is stagnant, fuel price increases continue and unemployment figures rise, the Samsodien still hold out h that things may improve even though the future may look bleak for now.