Deal with corruption, 'you can't milk South Africans any more' - Maimane on petrol price, taxes

As hundreds of people gathered outside the offices of National Treasury in Tshwane to picket against rising fuel levies, DA leader Mmusi Maimane accused government of increasing taxes instead of dealing with corruption.

Maimane was among various political party leaders who addressed the crowd on Tuesday morning, just before handing over a memorandum to Treasury demanding that the fuel levy be decreased by at least R1.

Fuel prices reached record highs earlier this month, with 95 octane unleaded petrol rising to R16.02 per litre inland and R15.43 for a litre in coastal regions. Diesel costs 4c less.

ALSO READ: DA, OUTA gear up for mass protests against rising fuel prices

The announcement of the latest increase has received backlash from members of the public who have already had to fork out for petrol price increases in 2018, as well as for an increase in value added tax (VAT), which for the first time reached 15% earlier this year.

Maimane told the crowd that with all the increases, "at the end of the money there is still more month left".

He added that the increases burden the poor who will have to soon decide whether to spend money on going to work or eating.

'We don't need SAA'

"We are here saying you can't milk South Africans any more. Enough is enough."

Maimane laid the blame for the financial strain faced by the country and the subsequent price increases on corruption.

"We stand united today, saying it's not for us to bail you out [of] your corruption that was inspired by Jacob Zuma.

"A government that says they will protect their people, and they don't mean me and you. We must pay money to South African Airways (SAA), we must pay money to Eskom, we must pay money to the Road Accident Fund."

Maimane also offered solutions in reducing the fuel levies.

"They say: 'Where is the money going to come from?' I am here to tell them. We don't need SAA, because it only flies the rich anyway, let's look after the poor people. Sell the airline, let's take the money and make sure our people can be assisted," Maimane said.

An uncaring government

He added that the Cabinet, which is the most bloated in Africa, should also be cut, and those funds can be used to subsidise the fuel levies.

"Jacob Zuma never stole on his own, he would have to be much cleverer than he is, and I know Mr Zuma. Let me tell you this; he didn't steal on his own, he was the head of a syndicate organisation that never stops stealing, they are stealing everywhere. They will continue to steal."

ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe, who also took part in the protest, told the crowd that petrol prices in neighbouring countries were cheaper, and that was because those governments cared about their citizens.

"They subsidise petrol, but our government does not care about its people. You all deserve better," said Meshoe.

He added that there should be a cap on fuel prices and that petrol should never cost more than R13.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse's (OUTA) Ben Theron reinforced the crowd's demand that there should be a R1 reduction in the fuel levy.

To subsidise the costs, the money should be collected from Dubai, he said, taking a jab at the controversial Gupta family which has been accused of looting the state through state capture and transferring the proceeds to the United Arab Emirates city.