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A revelation by an official in the department of energy about September's fuel price reprieve may debunk rumours that there was political pressure behind the intervention. Then again, it's hard to believe that technocrats would play with the stability of an industry. Robert Maake, who heads the fuel pricing division at the department of energy, dismissed the notion of political influence behind energy minister Jeff Radebe's reprieve on the fuel price last month. He said it was technical staff who proposed the intervention to Radebe following a public outcry about the price hikes, which have been on a steep upward trajectory since April. In September, Radebe suppressed a fuel price hike, much to the surprise and relief of motorists. The fuel industry reluctantly acceded to the move aimed at insulating consumers - albeit for a month only - from yet another increase in petrol and diesel. But the industry extracted a promise from Radebe to not repeat the intervention, given ...

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