Floyd Shivambu's attack on Treasury deputy director-general Ismail Momoniat because he was "not African" has drawn sharp criticism. Shivambu, who is the EFF's chief whip in Parliament, said he did not see why Momoniat attended all finance committee meetings in Parliament instead of the "African" director-general, Dondo Mogajane.
According to Business Day, Shivambu said, "I think he undermines Africans. He does not take the director-general, the finance minister or the deputy finance minister seriously. He thinks he is superior to them. He takes all the decisions and he is always here in Parliament as if he is National Treasury alone. He is supposed to focus on what he is assigned to."
A furious finance committee chairperson, Yunus Carrim, reportedly retorted that Momoniat was a struggle veteran who had been active in the struggle against apartheid.
Momoniat told Business Day that he had no problems with "MPs holding us to account", but said it "seems to me that he has a clear agenda to get rid of me".
"I want him to know the Guptas tried to get rid of me and he too will not succeed. I will take a lifestyle audit from the day I was born and I would like him to join me in taking a lifestyle audit."
He reportedly said "any attempt to target people racially I reject with the contempt it deserves".
In an opinion piece on Tuesday, Business Day deputy editor Carol Paton questioned the EFF second-in-command leader's motives.
"Leaving aside for a moment the EFF's racial campaign against white officials, there are other dimensions to the attacks on the Treasury that expose this as more of a political than an ethical concern. One of these is the EFF's support for VBS Bank. The party recently wrote to Nene, Treasury director-general Dondo Mogajane and the Reserve Bank to lobby them against putting VBS into curatorship, despite evidence of its enormous failure and possible fraud. It has also taken up a partisan role regarding the Public Investment Corporation (PIC)," Paton wrote.
In a statement on Tuesday night, the EFF said it stood by its opinion that Momoniat "undermines African leadership".
"Momoniat has no regard for black, particularly African leadership in National Treasury and this includes his disrespect of Director General and African Ministers and Deputy Ministers. To him, leadership that deserves respect is only those of Indian, Coloured or White origin. In virtually everything that National Treasury does, Momoniat dictates," the EFF said.
Shivambu was also heavily criticised on social media, with many questioning the motives behind his attacks on Momoniat. But Shivambu went on the defensive, calling Momoniat a "neoliberal" who was part of a "cabal" which "divided the mass democratic movement".
But there were many people who defended Momoniat for his role in tackling corruption and maladministration.
This all must know: Ishmael Momoniat is one amongst the most valiant of our cadres whose tireless endeavors brought about the freedom that many of us, who were mere toddlers when he took beatings, tear gassings in order to win our liberty, that today allows us to walk tall.— SikonathiMantshantsh (@SikonathiM) June 5, 2018
#IsmailMomoniat should write a book on how the Guptas tried to get rid of him. He was on their Treasury hit-list with former DG Fuzile because they were the most public of servants in protecting the public interest.— Ferial Haffajee (@ferialhaffajee) June 5, 2018
Hi @FloydShivambu. If you do not know who Ismail Momoniat is, ask. There are many people, even people you might consider to be inferior like me, who could help you. Happy to help anytime Sir.— Ranjeni Munusamy (@RanjeniM) June 5, 2018
People who were accused of being part of the Cabal include Billy Nair, Zac Yacoob and Laloo Chiba. Are all of them now considered by you to be unworthy of serving the people of South Africa or only the one whose current work is proving to be inconvenient? https://t.co/J1eztUk1qn— Ranjeni Munusamy (@RanjeniM) June 5, 2018
#IsmailMomoniat is a maths boff who has helped design systems to prevent money-laundering and to regulate the formerly rampant finance sector. He makes enemies. Pity they sit in the house of the people too.— Ferial Haffajee (@ferialhaffajee) June 5, 2018