Cosatu: down with fuel price

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - NEWS -

Po­lice had to fire stun gre­nades at hun­dreds of Cosatu mem­bers that were dis­rupt­ing traf­fic at the Mar­i­an­hill Toll Plaza yes­ter­day as they protested ris­ing fuel prices.

March­ing with the Cosatu mem­bers – who had gath­ered at Cur­rie’s Foun­tain ear­lier in the day – were Peo­ple Against Petrol and Paraf­fin Price In­creases (Papppi) rep­re­sen­ta­tives, in­clud­ing founder Visvin Reddy and deputy na­tional con­venor Bishop Ti­mothy Ng­cobo.

Ear­lier this month, fuel prices went up by more than R1. The 95 grade of petrol now costs a record high of R17.08 in the in­land eco­nomic hub of Gaut­eng and R16.49 at the coast, while the whole­sale diesel price went up by R1.24 to R15.64 and R15.16 in Gaut­eng and at the coast re­spec­tively.

Reddy called the steep fuel in­creases ex­pe­ri­enced this year “ridicu­lous” and “in­hu­mane”. “We are united here for the poor and the voice­less,” he said.

By noon, pro­tes­tors were still ar­riv­ing at the plaza, and a mo­tor­cade that had left Cur­rie’s Foun­tain fi­nally ar­rived. The mo­tor­cade caused con­sid­er­able de­lays as driv­ers made their way slowly to meet the pro­test­ers.

Pro­test­ers sang strug­gle songs and hoisted signs call­ing for an end to petrol hikes. They first blocked the Dur­ban-bound road and then the Pi­eter­mar­itzburg/ Jo­han­nes­burg-bound road, at which time po­lice started fir­ing stun gre­nades.

How­ever, pro­test­ers re­mained un­shaken, with Cosatu pro­vin­cial sec­re­tary Ed­win Mkhize call­ing for marchers to not give in to “threats” and to “main­tain the lines”.

“We have a right to be here, we are not ask­ing them for per­mis­sion, we have per­mis­sion to be here, we are go­ing to march and make sure this ac­tiv­ity is a suc­cess­ful one,” he said.

Mkhize had told mem­bers of the me­dia ear­lier in the day that he ex­pected 500 ve­hi­cles to take part in the protest.

He said the N3 toll had been cho­sen for the mass ac­tion be­cause the road was a na­tional one and that ris­ing fuel prices were a “so­ci­etal and na­tional mat­ter”. “We want a spot where we can send our mes­sage loud and clear.”

The union is de­mand­ing, among oth­ers, a re­duc­tion in the fuel levy and other taxes, tax­ing the wealthy to sub­sidise the poor and that gov­ern­ment ex­plore the na­tion­al­i­sa­tion of Sa­sol.

They are also de­mand­ing that the coun­try’s VAT hike of 1% be re­versed. They have fur­ther called for ex­empt­ing lo­cally pro­duced poul­try from VAT and other prod­ucts added to the list. – ANA

We have a right to be here, we are not ask­ing the po­lice for per­mis­sion.

Ed­win Mkhize Cosatu KwaZulu-Na­tal sec­re­tary

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