Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina has been blasted following his suggestion to close the Durban harbour “so no minerals leave this country”. Picture: FILE PHOTO/SUPPLIED
Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina has been blasted following his suggestion to close the Durban harbour “so no minerals leave this country”. Picture: FILE PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina, who oversees one of the biggest municipal budgets in the country, has been raked over the coals following his tweet calling for the closure of Durban harbour to facilitate beneficiation.

Economists said on Monday that this would be devastating for SA.

Masina tweeted on Sunday: “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.”

Despite his key position at Ekurhuleni, Masina is well known for his outlandish comments. Before the ANC’s 2017 Nasrec elective conference, he famously told News24 he would not serve under  President Cyril Ramaphosa if he won the party’s presidential race.

He was an ardent supporter of Ramaphosa’s rival Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. However, he backtracked on this when Ramaphosa won.

The mayor is seen to be part of the radical economic transformation faction, aligned to former president Jacob Zuma. He also supported ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule’s comments about the nationalisation of the SA Reserve Bank.

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.

With staff writer