EFF deputy leader Floyd Shivambu responded to the storm of criticism over the remarks he made about Treasury deputy director-general Ishmail Momoniat this week.
“I never said in the committee that Momoniat is un-African. I said that he is micromanaging National Treasury, and he is, therefore, undermining the African leadership that is in National Treasury because he gets involved in virtually everything else that National Treasury does,” Shivambu said on Radio 702 this morning.
The EFF deputy president said he would neither retract the statement he had made about Momoniat nor apologise for it. He also does not regret saying Momoniat does not think highly of African leaders in Treasury because he, Shivambu, was not wrong.
Shivambu said senior officials within Treasury had, in the past, raised complaints about Momoniat’s long-drawn micromanagement of the department.
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The EFF deputy leader said he came to know of these complaints because he had served on the standing committee on finance since 2014, during which he had been closely monitoring the matter.
“By the way, it is not the first time that I raise this issue. I raised it when Nhlanhla Nene was the minister [of finance] for the first time with Mcebisi Jonas as deputy minister. I raised it when Malusi Gigaba was the minister of finance and Sfiso Buthelezi was a deputy minister of finance, and there was Lungisa Fuzile as the director-general,” Shivambu said.
Shivambu added that during Gigaba’s tenure as finance minister, the financial-sector transformation process had been under way, with submissions made by various sectors of the South African community.
“And I said that, why is it that the National Treasury ministry and the department are communicating contradictory messages? Because when the ministry would come to the committee to make submissions, they would say something else like, ‘we are committed to change or we are committed to transformation, deracialisation of the banking industry of the insurance industry of asset management space,’” Shivambu said.
The EFF leader said Momoniat would, however, make presentations at the committee, which contradicted the ministry’s commitment to transformation, adding it was on parliamentary records that he had in the past raised the issue of the two entities making contradictory statements.
Shivambu said his criticism of Momoniat was not racial and that any senior heads of Treasury, including those of black African descent, would be condemned for undermining African leaders within the department.
The finance committee and the ANC lambasted Shivambu for the remarks, but Shivambu said last night on SA FM that he had not been shocked by the statement issued by the governing party.
“No one in the ANC can claim that I said someone can be excluded because of their race, but they are riding on the falsehood since it is convenient for them,” Shivambu said.
“The chairperson was disappointed in the fact that I raised the issue of African leadership because ANC has continued to perpetuate this nonsensical idea that indigenous Africans cannot provide leadership to strategic economic institutions,” he said about the standing committee’s condemnation.
During the SA FM interview, Shivambu challenged the interviewer to retrieve a recording that would prove he had said Momoniat should be excluded from the committee on the basis of race.