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The South African cabinet announced on Thursday that it will be monitoring the prices of essential food items amid a surge in the inflation rate in the country.

Minister in the Presidency of South Africa, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, disclosed that the "cabinet has approved that the Economic Cluster must put in place an action plan on food prices, food security and access to food," SA News reported.

The minister noted that the Competition Commission is closely monitoring the food prices pursuant to price gouging concerns raised since the State of Disaster was declared in March 2020.

The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster during the COVID-19 pandemic as it allowed the government to take various measures to fight against the pandemic and protect citizens.

She explained that the constant monitoring of essential food prices will ensure that the food products are affordable and accessible to consumers across the country.

"The Commission has noted the 'rocket and feather' effect, where prices are quick to rise often in excess of cost increases and slow to fall once cost pressures decline. It has also flagged the concentrated nature of the food and retail markets as a concerning contributing factor," she explained.

Inflation in South Africa has increased by 7.1% in March, as per government agency Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) data issued in April. As inflation continues to increase in the country, consumers have to pay more for food and non-alcoholic beverages.

"The monthly change in the consumer price index (CPI) was 1% in March, the most significant monthly rise since July 2022 when it was 1.5%," the agency reported on its official website. "Food & non-alcoholic beverages and transport were the main drivers behind the annual and monthly increases."

Food costs have increased by 14% in the last 12 months. As per the agency, this is the highest annual increase in the last 14 years.

Aside from inflation, South Africa is also dealing with an electricity crisis as the country has been facing a combination of stage 2 and stage 4 of load shedding since earlier this week, as per Eskom's notice.

The situation has gone so bad that the country is now seeking help from China and Mozambique. In June, South Africa signed a Power Purchase Agreement with Mozambique through which the country will supply 100 megawatts of electricity within the next three months to the former country.

Furthermore, South Africa signed energy agreements with China during the 15th BRICS summit to get emergency energy solutions.