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‘Closing Durban harbour will be devastating’ – analysts on Ekurhuleni mayor's bizarre tweet

Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina has been blasted following his suggestion to close the Durban harbour “so no minerals leave this country”. File photo.
Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina has been blasted following his suggestion to close the Durban harbour “so no minerals leave this country”. File photo.
Image: Supplied

Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina has been blasted following his tweet to close the Durban Harbour “so that no minerals leave this country”.

Closing Durban harbour would be devastating for South Africa’s economy, analysts said on Monday.

This comes after Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina at the weekend flighted the notion of the harbour's closure “so no minerals leave this country”.

“Democracy is nice and good, but to get our full independence from Western imperialists we must close down the Durban harbour so  no minerals leave this country. In that way, international manufacturing will descend to SA since we hold 90% of platinum, which the works so need,” read Masina’s tweet.

Economist Mike Schüssler from Economists.co.za said Masina’s statement was not “thoughtful at all”.

Schüssler said should the country not make the turnover, mines will not make enough money and will close.

“What does he think is going to happen to the platinum and gold industry or anybody who doesn’t get money for a while? They won’t be able to pay their workers and the workers won’t be able to send money home.

“The shops won’t be able to buy from the wholesalers; the wholesalers won’t be able to buy from manufacturers. It will have a very big negative impact on our economy,” Schüssler said.

Schüssler said the country also did not have the electricity capacity nor the money to do the beneficiation of raw materials.

“We first need to build power stations and that is going to take a few years. We need to get money which we haven’t got.

“He is welcome to close the Durban harbour but we won’t be able to pay for our cars, our medicine and cellphones that we import.”

Director and chief economist of Econometrix, Dr Azar Jammine, said Masina’s comment was senseless and showed no understanding of the economy.

“We won’t be able to afford to buy any imported goods and services, given that 30% of what we spend is on imported goods. There will be a 30% reduction in the things we are able to pay for.

“What he is missing is that people will start using minerals other than platinum for anti-pollution. As it is now, platinum is only used in diesel engines, and petrol engines use palladium.

“Do you close the Durban harbour just to stop platinum exports? Platinum is a very dense metal. You don’t have to shut the harbour to stop platinum exports,” Jammine said.

The mayor was also widely criticised on social media.

Comments included:

Juvenile politics! No content, misdirected! Suffering from political diarrhea! We're not impressed! We belong to the global economy and we will trade with whoever in the best interest of our country and for the benefit of all our people! Our people do not eat political rhetoric! - Mokwena Wa Mogopa

How does closing Durban harbour help? Did you know that it employs 50,000 people. Leadership dololo - MorakaRamokgopa

While I don't agree with you on closing Durban harbour, which in itself will have a negative impact on the economy,  I agree with you on adding value to our minerals, but you first have to produce skills through quality education, which unfortunately you've destroyed. - Sedi Laka 

And electricity, all our smelters closed due to high price and unreliable supply. - Richard Spoor replying to Sedi Laka

Madness, Zim did the same hence they are here to work for the same people they chased away. - @tshehla_david

Why should international manufacturing be the one looked at and not our own? It simply shows that if the West was to stop buying platinum it would become as worthless to us as anything else they don’t need. They have developed the technology to make use of platinum, not us. - Jim Wa'Namwini

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