/ 16 April 2008

Thousands to protest against high food prices

Thousands of people are expected to take part in a protest against high food prices in Johannesburg on Thursday, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said on Wednesday.

”We expect more than 5 000 people from trade unions, non-government bodies and community organisations to turn up,” the Cosatu Gauteng secretary said.

He said protesters would gather at the Johannesburg City Hall at 1pm, and march to Braamfontein to Eskom’s offices and the Pick’n’Pay supermarket chain, as a symbolic gesture to all retail shops.

Key issues to be raised include escalating food costs, the proposed 53% Eskom tariff hike and rising fuel prices.

”We reiterate our resolution that we need to nationalise Sasol so as to increase capacity to provide fuel to all South Africans.”

Community organisations and the South African NGO Coalition (Sangoco) will also take part in the march.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Union of South Africa (Fedusa) on Wednesday also called for urgent action against soaring food prices.

Fedusa general secretary Dennis George said the most basic food items such as bread, milk, eggs, maize, meat and chicken had gone up at a rate higher than inflation.

”According to statistics, maize, a staple diet for millions of South Africans, has gone up by 40% in the past year.”

He said the International Monetary Fund warned that the 48% increase in food prices since the end of 2006 was a huge figure that may undermine gains that the international community had made in reducing poverty.

However, Fedusa had no plans of joining Thursday’s march, George said. — Sapa