Following the extraordinary news that EFF deputy president and chief whip Floyd Shivambu objected to the presence of a man, a distinguished struggle veteran no less, in parliament on Tuesday simply on the basis of his race, he and his party have faced an avalanche of criticism.
Shivambu objected to “non-African” Ismail Momoniat’s “repeated presence” in meetings. Deputy director-general Momoniat is a Treasury representative, and Shivambu took issue with why Momoniat attended all finance committee meetings instead of his African counterpart Dondo Mogajane.
Shivambu reportedly 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.”
The finance committee chairman, Yunus Carrim, was outraged, calling Shivambu to order and telling Shivambu that Momoniat was a struggle veteran who had been active in the underground struggle against apartheid. He pointed out to Shivambu that his logic implied that former Bophuthatswana leader Lucas Mangope should be seen as more important than Indian struggle hero Ahmed Kathrada, purely for reasons of race, which he would not do.
Rapport editor Waldimar Pelser on Twitter called for the EFF to be treated the way “all racial nationalists and racists” should be treated, “namely with contempt”. Author Max du Preez called it “reprehensible”.
Others were unimpressed by “crude and shallow nativism”.
The crude & shallow racial nativism of the educated but frankly stupid flabby floyd
& then… Yoyo Yunus: `momoniat is a struggle veteran'… but Momo`s legitimacy at FinCom is not based on his struggle reciepts… It is based on his job descriptionhttps://t.co/AbGDlmj7JU
— Ebrahim Fakir (@EbrahimFakir) June 5, 2018
“The EFF’s newest campaign is to throw mud at the Treasury: in the National Assembly Malema said Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene was “as corrupt as hell” and Floyd Shivambu referred to Treasury deputy director-general Ismail Momoniat as “a corrupt guy in Treasury known as Momo”.”
— Sangxa (@sangxa) June 5, 2018
Shivambu has not done much to win the regard of journalists, having sworn at them and called them names when he was still in the ANC Youth League. Earlier this year, he physically attacked a journalist outside parliament simply because Adrian de Kock was asking him a question while Shivambu was allegedly in a hurry. The EFF’s chief whip subsequently apologised for the attack.
Momoniat rejected Shivambu’s allegations “with contempt” and quipped that the Gupta family had also tried to get rid of him, without success.
“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 challenged Shivambu.
I think we all owe each other the honour and duty of knowing each other's story before we attack and harm. We might find we are borthers and sisters in arms. ????????????????✊????✌????
— Ferial Haffajee (@ferialhaffajee) June 5, 2018
Shivambu and others in the EFF, including their leader Julius Malema, however, continued to defend their stance on Momoniat on Twitter.
Shivambu implied that Momoniat was a double agent for a “cabal” during apartheid that “divided” the mass democratic movement.
Hi @RanjeniM, I know who Ismail Momoniat is. He’s historically part of a Cabal that divided the MDM. He’s also the Neo-liberal technocrat who doesn’t respect African leadership. He thinks he owns National Treasury. You can share more information. What else? pic.twitter.com/lydZD9TGEz
— Floyd Shivambu (@FloydShivambu) June 5, 2018
Malema was also quick to support Shivambu’s stance.
We know him very well and we also know why he’s treated special by those who also don’t have respect for African leadership and African colleagues.
— Julius Sello Malema (@Julius_S_Malema) June 5, 2018
The EFF, in an official statement, said they supported Shivambu’s statements about Momoniat, and added numerous other allegations.
“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,” said spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.
EFF Statement On National Treasury Deputy Director General Momoniat Ismailhttps://t.co/KsQm0OTZ3Q
— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) June 5, 2018
FACT: National Treasury DDG Momoniat Ismail undermines and disregards black, particularly African leadership in the Ministry/Department of Finance and all the entities. We asked a simple question of where are other DDGs, where’s the DG whilst he dominates all major decisions?
— Floyd Shivambu (@FloydShivambu) June 5, 2018
No @FloydShivambu, your question was not simple. It's bordering on hate speech ala Vicky Momberg with some dressing. You can (and should) do better. I have issues with Momoniat too – but the suggestions you make are preposterous…
— ???????????? Maggs Naidu (@maggsnaidu) June 5, 2018