My collection of five-cent coins will help offset latest petrol price hike

09 September 2018 - 16:12
By Vusi Nzapheza
The writer says his five-cent coins have been gathering dust as nobody appreciates they are still legal tender.
The writer says his five-cent coins have been gathering dust as nobody appreciates they are still legal tender.

I cannot remember exactly when I started but I have an extensive collection of five-cent coins. I am not a numismatic in the true sense of the word per se as I did not accumulate the stash to study the coins or as a hobby. I am more like a bibliophile.

I think I started hoarding the stash because I had street kids and car guards on my back, so I just chucked the bronze coins in the car's ashtray. However, none of those asking me to throw a coin their way appreciated my gesture when I offered them. Even my own sprogs deemed me a scrooge when I asked them to raid the ashtray when they needed cash for snacks.

Today's five-cent coin has a bad rap compared to the value of the shiny silver coin in my day. Back in those days, five cents went a long way as I could buy a ginger biscuit, sweet aid cooler and still be left with the change to tithe at church.

My collection has been gathering dust since nobody appreciates they are still legal tender at the market. As a matter of fact, some stores reject them outright for a purchase.

Even when they round up the prices of the items you purchased, they'd give you 10 cents change since the one cent has been out of circulation for years.

The plight of the five-cent coin came to my mind this week as the fuel price surged yet again. In its wisdom, our caring government decided to cushion the blow to motorists and announced it would absorb the 28 cents per litre increase and only increase the juice price by five cents.

Apparently, the zoka increase in the retail margin of petrol is to cater for the salary increase for forecourt attendants, cashiers and admin staff.

I wish I was making this up but that is the state of our nation at the moment. The department of energy said it was aware the price rise of the past few months had put us under pressure and had decided to intervene. However, this cushion was a "once-off temporary intervention", it said.

Indeed the price of gas went up by five cents on Wednesday and we ought to be thankful for that.

I thought I may have finally found the way to get rid of my collection of five-cent coins. So I drove to my nearest filling station and approached motorists and offered them coins per litre to cushion the blow of another increase. Some were amused but others looked at me like I was a fugitive from a mental facility. I wouldn't dare offer them to the petrol attendants because instinct warned me my gesture would land me a bloodied nose.

I usually tip an attendant who washes my windscreen and it is never with a five-cent coin. But of course government-nomics are not the same as the reality on the ground. I think it is time energy minister Jeff Radebe paid me a visit so I could cushion his ministry from the cushion he cushioned us with this week.