August 2019 Household Affordability Index: Transport and Electricity takes up 58,7% of the August National Minimum Wage (exemption level) of R3 024.
One of the most striking features of the August HAI is that of the influence of the recent taxi fare hikes and electricity increases for low-paid workers. In Pietermaritzburg taxi fares increased by ±7,7% and electricity by 13,07. In August the typical transport cost for a low-paid worker in Pietermaritzburg is R1 176 per month and electricity is R598,52 per month (total = R1 774,52). Together these two expenses take up 58,7% of the August National Minimum Wage (exemption level) of R3 024. After paying for transport and electricity workers and their families are left with just R1 249,48 to secure all other essential household expenses. We suspect that the same situation, as in Pietermaritzburg, is playing itself out across the country.
Surely removing nearly 60% of the money in the pockets of millions of workers on only two essential services, out of a range of household needs, is not smart. Households must now cut back on other basic needs. Can we not find a better way for workers to spend this money productively – investing in the local economy; supporting the educational progress of our children; and putting good nutritious food on our plates?
- The latest poverty lines indicate that the upper bound poverty line for one person is R1 227 per month. Workers support families, with one worker now supporting ±3,9 persons off her wage.
- The cost of a basic nutritional basket of food for a family of 4 was R2 318,97 in August.
- South Africa’s working class are not able to feed their families properly on the wages earned.
Affordability is related to the number of persons employed, income levels and the cost of goods and services. In August 2019 we are seeing how an unemployment crisis, low-wage regime and escalating transport and electricity is cascading on South Africa households. With little maneuverability families cut back on proper nutritious food. Women eat last and suffer the most as they use their bodies as a buffer against this ever more horrifying economic crisis.
In August our data shows that families are under-spending on proper nutritious food by 24% (at the very best-case scenario). The Child Support Grant (R420) which should ensure our children are properly fed is set 25% below the food poverty line (R561).
It seems exhausting to continue tracking and describing our ever-worsening socio-economic indicators given the crisis we are in. Are their no ideas, no plans, no actions to intervene now to ensure that when the economy does recover, that we still are able to call on the humanity, the human resources, the health and goodwill of our people?