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Sunday Times STLive By Sunday Times , 2012-04-08

Tank up on government-speak

Petrol
Image: Marianne Schwankhart

I JUST paid R1400 to fill up my tank.

That's enough to feed a family for a year. Not one of those vast, rambling families from KwaMashu or Ventersdorp, but one of your smaller families from the less pretentious suburbs of Mogadishu.

I remember when you could buy a car for R1400. Durban poison cost a rand a hand, and prostitutes were a dime a dozen.

Energy Minister Dipuo Peters reassures us: "We are concerned about the impact of oil prices on SA, and plans to seek a solution are under way."

Does this mean plans are under way to make efforts to seek a solution? Are we at the planning stage, the seeking stage or the effort stage? It's not very clear.

Either way, "the department can't divulge detailed information ... as it still needs to conduct research". Research into making plans or making efforts? I'm confused.

Peters said the Treasury had "shown an interest" in finding ways of tackling this crisis. This is government-speak for Peters bumping into Pravin Gordhan in the Union Buildings cafeteria.

Peters: "It's terrible, isn't it?"

Gordhan: "Appalling. Everything is always overcooked."

Peters: "I mean the petrol price increase. We should consider thinking about looking into ways of investigating how to go about ..."

Gordhan: "Absolutely. Is that chicken or beef?"

Explaining the crisis in terms that even a taxi driver who was repeatedly dropped on his head as a baby could understand, Peters said: "Fuel prices are set in line with global-market issues such as geopolitics, currency strengths and speculator activity."

Oh, okay then. That explains it. Anything else, minister?

"Unfortunately, SA is a price-taker when it comes to this matter."

And as your loyal subjects, we would like to assure you that we will happily take it, over and over again. Standing up, bending over and on our knees. What's more, we won't even ask for lubricant. But only because we can't afford it.

She also said consumers needed to learn to use less petrol. Well, Dipuo, if that's your real name, the only way to do this is if we all stop driving to work every day. I don't know what will happen to the economy, but we irresponsible petrol abusers will be happier.

We can drink without having to drive. No more roadblocks. No more traffic police. No more e-tolls. Paradise.

And Israel, if you're listening, stop threatening to bomb Iran. You're screwing it up for the rest of us. Don't make me come over there.