POLITICS
07/06/2018 05:20 SAST | Updated 07/06/2018 08:52 SAST

Is Treasury Indeed Black And African-Led? The Numbers Say Yes

Treasury has long ago broken the so-called 'cappuccino effect' — in which companies have a few black people on top (the cinnamon) on an otherwise white leadership (the cream), with black people being the coffee at the bottom.

ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images
Floyd Shivambu.

EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu has accused National Treasury deputy director-general Ismail Momoniat of being anti-African and of undermining African leadership.

But the numbers show that the Treasury is a pace-setter at black and African leadership, and its leaders occupy the highest positions in the private sector here and in the rest of the world.

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Momoniat has been part of building this hot-house of black talent, along with former Treasury leaders who include Absa CEO Maria Ramos, SA Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago, deputy Reserve Bank governor Kuben Naidoo, Standard Bank SA CEO Lungisa Fuzile and Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe, among many others. The trend to black excellence is being continued by director-general Dondo Mogajane, whom Shivambu accused Momoniat of undermining.

Let's look at the totals first. Of the Treasury's total complement of 1,168 staff, 894 are black Africans. Now let's look at the top. Of the top 17 managers, 10 are black and African.

The next level down is similar. Of all senior managers, 164 of the 273 are black and African.

Of the total number of professionals and specialists (the third level of seniority), 444 of these 544 big brains are black. Then, of the next layer of junior managers and skilled technical people, 230 of the 283 are black and African.

Of the Treasury's total complement of 1,168 staff, 894 are black Africans. Now let's look at the top. Of the top 17 managers, 10 are black and African.

This is cool, because it means the Treasury has long ago broken the so-called "cappuccino effect" — in which companies have a few black people on top (the sprinkles of cinnamon) on an otherwise white leadership (the cream) with the black people being the coffee at the bottom.

The professionals, specialists and junior managers suggest a strong pipeline of black talent coming through the ranks, which explains why the Treasury is widely regarded as a pipeline that has fed the banking and finance industries with talent.

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Parliament is still not happy. "The committee has persistently raised with National Treasury the need to ensure that its senior officials are more representative of the racial and gender demographics of the country and consistently called for the entire financial sector to also be more demographically representative," said Yunus Carrim, the chairperson of Parliament's finance committee in a statement on Wednesday.

While Shivambu has tried to present a picture of Momoniat representing Indian domination, this is not borne out in the numbers.

He added: "Of course, you can't have nonracialism without African leadership, but you also cannot exclude non-Africans simply on the basis of their race. What next? Are we going to dismiss the contribution of Ahmed Kathrada, Joe Slovo, Helen Joseph and Dulcie September simply on the grounds of race? We don't have to compromise one iota on the need for African leadership while accepting the role of outstanding public servants like Mr Momoniat."

While Shivambu has tried to present a picture of Momoniat representing Indian domination, this is not borne out in the numbers.

Three of the top 17 managers who run the show are Indian, and three are white. And 25 of the 273 senior managers are Indian. So the data doesn't bear out Shivambu's story of Indian domination or of black Africans being a relatively powerless minority in Treasury.

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Treasury is a trailblazer in the numbers of women in leadership roles, too. Of the total, 510 of the top 894 highly qualified staff are women — largely representative of the population, which is about half women and half men. In this, the Treasury outstrips the private sector by wide miles, as senior women leaders in corporate South Africa are still like needles in haystacks.

Between 2016 and 2017, the National Treasury hired 90 new staffers — and 83 were black African. Of this number, 48 were women. In addition, 36 of the 45 promotions went to black African people over the same period. The Treasury's latest annual report, which details disputes and the state of labour relations in the department, reveals zero staff departures due to disputes, and the turnover of staff is just over 10 percent of the total — which veers on the high side.

Shivambu told HuffPost SA that whistleblowers in the Treasury had given the EFF information about Momoniat dominating key parts of the department, but he could not provide further information at the time of writing. He stood by his allegation that Momoniat was corrupt, but had not sent documents at the time of writing as he promised. Later, he said he would no longer send the documents, alleging that the writer is biased, as she had tweeted in support of Momoniat.

"The committee has no evidence before it that Mr Momoniat is corrupt, as Mr Shivambu claims. It knows him to be an extremely hardworking, honest, skilled and very experienced official, who has served both the anti-apartheid struggle and our new democracy selflessly, and the committee reaffirmed its confidence in him this morning, saying Mr Momoniat, like everyone, has his faults, but that cannot be reduced to his racial background," said Carrim on behalf of the finance committee.

He added that "The committee believes that members of Parliament need to guard against fuelling increasing racial polarisation... while being unapologetic in campaigning vigorously to reduce the huge racial and class divides of the country."