The National Education Health & Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] welcomes the outcomes of the market enquiry into the state of competition in the data market. Minister Ebrahim Patel established the enquiry and its terms of reference on the 1st September 2017.
Operators have been given two months to reduce prices in the region of 30% to 50% or face prosecution. This is not the first time that operators are given an order to reduce data prices and threatened with legal action if they fail to comply. In 2017, our parliament pleaded with network operators to lower data costs and threatened to act harshly if they failed to do so. Throughout time operators have made it unequivocally clear that they don’t intend to slash prices and they enjoy sucking consumers dry.
As NEHAWU, we say the time for empty rhetoric must come to an end and our government must act on behalf of its people to lower the prices to enable citizens to communicate amongst themselves. Operators cannot continue to overcharge consumers as they please without facing punitive measures.
The report by the Competition Commission reveals that South African data costs are amongst the highest in the world and this does not bode well for the working class and the poor. The exorbitant fees needed to communicate disadvantages almost the entire population more especially workers and the youth. Learners in high school and university students struggle to access the internet for school work because of the current prices of data.
In an age where everything is almost digital, job seekers are hugely affected when they have to apply for positions. This also does not augur well for the growth of our economy and directly adds into the number of people who are unemployed. If our country is serious about growing the economy then issues of data costs and the cost to communicate must be looked into, as a matter of urgency.
As NEHAWU, we will watch this matter closely and ensure that the Competition Commission implements the outcomes of the report which includes the demand that all mobile operators must provide prepaid customers a lifeline package which provides them free data on a daily basis.
Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat
Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968; December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969; Khaya Xaba (NEHAWU National Spokesperson) at 082 455 2500 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org