National Treasury on Thursday came to the defence of its deputy director-general Ismail Momoniat following what it called “vitriolic utterances” by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
Earlier this week EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu accused Momoniat of being corrupt, undermining black people and allegedly said that he was ‘non-African’, during a parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance meeting.
The EFF sided with Shivambu, accusing Momoniat of being the "de facto Minister of Finance", "dictating everything that National Treasury does" and "micromanaging its entities and also trying to micromanage parliamentary process".
EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said that "To [Momoniat], leadership that deserves respect is only [that] of Indian, coloured or white origin”.
Shivambu and the EFF also accused Momoniat of not taking the Finance Minister and his deputy seriously because he thought he was superior to them and went on to allege that Momoniat single-handedly controlled Treasury and was “always in Parliament”.
The African National Congress also came to Momoniat’s defence last night and labelled Shivambu’s comments as “bordering on the extreme racism”.
Momoniat is currently responsible for Tax and Financial Sector Policy in the Treasury, a position he has held for 13 years. He was previously the deputy director-general for International Governmental Financial Relations.
“With respect to Ismail Momoniat, the Treasury official the EFF has singled out in its vitriolic utterances, he has been an employee of the Treasury for over 23 years, having joined in January 1995. During this time, he has served the Treasury and the people of South Africa in various capacities,” said Treasury in a statement.
It went on to say that Momoniat was the right person to represent Treasury in his current position given his vast experience.
National Treasury said it treated with utmost contempt the EFF’s claims that Momoniat has an agenda against black people.
“This cannot be. Whenever he has appeared in Parliament, or any other public platform, he has articulated National Treasury policies, policies that have also served and approved by Cabinet,” the department said.
Treasury went further, saying that it was a figment of the EFF’s imagination that Momoniat has usurped the powers of the Minister and other director-generals in Treasury.
“The development of policy proposals in the Treasury, and their ultimate approval by the Minister of Finance, is governed by clearly articulated policies and by proper governance structures. Policy, regulatory, procurement and employment decisions are made by way of written memoranda, which ultimately make recommendations to the Director General and/or Minister, and are signed off by them,” Treasury explained.
Further explaining Momoniat’s appearance in Parliament, Treasury explained that it was often difficult for the Finance Minister and the director-general to appear before parliamentary committees, therefore they could delegate powers to another Treasury official to do so.
“The EFF statement also ignores the fact that the nature of [Treasury’s] responsibilities cut across the whole of the three spheres of government. This means that Treasury is called upon by almost all parliamentary portfolio committees to attend their meetings, often with more than one meeting taking place at the same time. This therefore means that the DG of the Treasury cannot attend to all meetings and must delegate the attendance of these meetings to the most relevant DDG, or Treasury official,” Treasury added.
The EFF’s attacks, it said, were based on ignorance of the policy making function of Treasury and the Ministry of Finance and displayed a gross misunderstanding of parliamentary process.