THE BLOG
06/06/2018 13:55 SAST | Updated 06/06/2018 14:06 SAST

Dear Floyd: In Curiosity, From Ferial

As your power grows, does your responsibility?

Dear Floyd

Forgive the lack of honorific – your party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, has brought a delightful youthful casualness to the body politic, so you are known by your first name, Mr Shivambu, and you are the most famous Floyd in the country.

I have watched with wonder and, often in admiration, at how quickly the EFF has become a political phenomenon in five short years. You dominate media and social media coverage and shape politics for a small party.

Power is not far away for your party: the election outcomes in Spain and Italy in the past few weeks are possible harbingers here.

I have watched with wonder and, often in admiration, at how quickly the EFF has become a political phenomenon in five short years.

While the politics are very different, what I have learnt about the elections of 46-year-old Pedro Sanchez in Spain and Guiseppe Conte in Italy is that popular young politicians are altering the shape of public life. Conte was brought to power in part by 31-year-old Luigi de Maio of the Five Star Movement, which is a bit like the EFF of Italy in how it has taken a lightning bolt to old politics.

In South Africa, the EFF is Mzansi's lightning bolt; its wake-up call. Your campaign called "Pay back the money" to get former President Jacob Zuma to do the right thing and which was fought with elan in the National Assembly and at the Constitutional Court is embroidered into our DNA now and it has set a high benchmark for accountability and care with the public rand. By turning accountability and scrutiny into an effective and simple slogan, the EFF was key in ending the era of sleaze.

AFP/Getty Images

Then, your position on free fees reshaped the national budget as your position on land reform and restitution is now the dominant policy and theme of President Cyril Ramaphosa's era. This focus on muscular social justice is winning you plaudits and support.

But as power grows, so does responsibility. And I wonder if you wear this responsibility as well as you do the red overall and beret?

As someone who has faced false information put out about me by the president of the EFF, Julius Malema, I know first-hand the power of the EFF's social media following to attack like a cyber-army. It was painful and it was false.

While we all understand where nonracialism stops and African leadership starts, what is your commitment to the policy of nonracialism which is in our Constitution? It binds us as much as the empowerment laws of our country do. The Treasury is African-led as you will know from the troop of treasurers who regularly report to Parliament.

What is your responsibility, Mr Shivambu, to nonviolence, either in word or deed? In the helter-skelter of public life, we have forgotten, but you attacked a journalist for taking a photograph of you in March. I know you apologised, but the attack was not the first on a journalist.

ALEXANDER JOE via Getty Images

And what is the EFF's commitment to facts in public life? There are many allegations about Treasury deputy director-general Ismail Momoniat in the statement your party put out on Tuesday and each of these have been refuted by Treasury director-general Dondo Mogajane. Isn't it the responsibility of the EFF to put the facts into public discourse instead of relying on angry rhetoric so that we, your public, can make up our own minds.

READ: This Is How 'Non-African' Ismail Momoniat Contributed To The Struggle, As Well As Treasury

Are Treasury staff unhappy about something? Are you unhappy about the curatorship of the VBS bank which sailed into perilous seas? There is no context or background or facts in your position on Momoniat.

Gallo Images

As somebody who has followed the Treasury for many years, I know that accounting to Parliament is only one part of its work. This outward-looking institution operates across the economy as it runs the state's assets and liability; it operates globally in the centres of finance and its work at the multilateral institutions is key to South Africa's economy and to our well-being.

Treasury staff have to represent everywhere and in my experience, these teams are often black-led and also diverse.

U.S. President Donald Trump has muddied the water by brazenly putting out fake tweets – is the EFF starting to do the same?

As someone who has faced false information put out about me by the president of the EFF, Julius Malema, I know first-hand the power of the EFF's social media following to attack like a cyber-army. It was painful and it was false.

Power without responsibility can be exercised in devastating ways and I wonder if, as you grow, will your responsibility to your public also grow?

ALSO READ: Floyd Shivambu Has Quite A History Of Racism And Violence