DA rejects Patel’s directive to ban the export of scrap metal

Issued by Mat Cuthbert MP – DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition
05 Aug 2022 in News

The DA rejects the decision by Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel, to ban the export of scrap metal for a period of 6 months.

This is an admission by government that they have failed to capacitate law enforcement authorities in order to combat the theft and vandalism of public infrastructure.

Furthermore, they appear to be acting in contravention of the relevant public participation legislation, as the announcement by Minister in Presidency, Mondli Gungubele, on the 6th of June 2022 that public consultations pertaining to this issue were to be conducted – have not yet begun nor has a timeline for this process been made public.

While there are illegal metal recyclers who benefit from and are complicit in the pillaging of public infrastructure and should be criminally prosecuted, it is patently unfair to paint everyone in the industry with the same brush.

The fact is that there is a significant proportion of those in the industry who abide by the law and conduct legitimate business dealings.

The DA reiterates that this issue is a crime problem and not a trade policy issue.

However, it should be recorded that Minister Patel has been lobbied extensively by special interest groups in the upstream steel industry – who want an artificially low scrap price – so that they are able to make obscene amounts of money at the expense of metal recyclers.

Moreover, these very same special interest groups have received favourable terms from development finance institutions such as the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) in order to fund the acquisition and expansion of their businesses – with Patel’s explicit consent.

In January of this year the Kenyan government decided to a follow a similar route and were forced to walk back their decision in March. This was on account of the fact that they could not empirically prove that it had meaningfully dealt with the theft and vandalism of public infrastructure and that it had led to many businesses closing and jobs lost.

If Minister Patel and government at-large were serious about combatting this scourge they would cost, review and implement the local, provincial and national government interventions put forward by the DA in May of this year.