The Democratic Alliance has launched a national petition to have the recently announced increase in the country's Value Added Tax revoked.
Speaking at the launch at a rally in Soshanguve, Tshwane, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said the National Budget, tabled in Parliament this past Wednesday by Finance Minister, Malusi Gigaba, was the first actual, tangible action taken by government since the election of Cyril Ramaphosa last week.
Maimane claimed the budget showed that there was "no real change" from the ANC in government.
"It is undoubtedly one of the most anti-poor budgets we have ever seen - and it amounts to an assault on the poor and the jobless," he said.
He said the VAT increase was government bullying ordinary South Africans into paying for its misdeeds.
"The ANC cannot steal public money and then expect us, the people, to pay for it," he said.
Maimane said instead of cutting the fat and waste in government - unnecessary expenditure and bloated departments - and focusing on growth, the ANC chose to cut spending on services to poor people, including funding for housing, education, policing, and local and provincial government.
"The raising of VAT by one percentage point in effect means that we will all be paying 7.14% more tax on every day goods and services," he said.
Maimane said this, combined with a significant fuel levy increases, would make food and transport more expensive.
"It will now be more expensive to be unemployed in South Africa. Life will get harder for the most vulnerable in society over the coming months," he said.
'Regressive and anti-poor policy'
Maimane said he had offered Ramaphosa his support when he took action that would benefit the country but said the raising of VAT and transport levies would not benefit the country.
"It will do the very opposite - and it will hit the poor and the jobless the hardest," he said.
Maimane said this was because poor households spent a much greater portion of their income on food and transport.
According to StatisticsSA, poor households spend most of their income - 30% - on food, compared to non-poor households which only spend 10.5%.
"A VAT increase only exacerbates this inequality between the 'haves' and the 'have not's'," he said.
Maimane said the DA would oppose and fight the VAT increase, as well as the transport levy increases, on all fronts.
"We will not support a regressive and anti-poor policy by the ANC and will today be launching a national petition to say 'no' to VAT and transport levies."
The petition can be found on the party's website. It will be tabled in Parliament before the budget votes are passed before April 1.
"We call on all MPs to vote against the laws that will give effect to these taxes, which will come before Parliament in the coming weeks. This includes the ANC's alliance partners in Parliament. They cannot say they are against VAT increases in the media, but vote to support VAT increases in Parliament."
Maimane's last word was for new president Cyril Ramaphosa.
"The ball is now in his court. If he chooses to stick by this anti-poor, anti-development budget, then his words of change and renewal will be nothing more than empty words, and more of the same from the ANC."