NEWS & ANALYSIS

SCOF condemns Floyd Shivambu’s racial questioning of Ismail Momoniat – Yunus Carrim

Chairperson says Treasury official extremely hardworking, honest, skilled and very experienced

Finance Committee regrets Mr Floyd Shivambu's behaviour

6 June 2018

The Standing Committee on Finance today unanimously condemned Mr Floyd Shivambu’s questioning of National Treasury Deputy Director-General (DDG), Mr Ismail Momoniat’s, presence at yesterday’s committee meeting on racial grounds.

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.

The committee has welcomed Mr Shivambu to engage further in these debates, but maintain that his crude attack on Mr Momoniat yesterday was unwarranted and not consistent with the non-racial principles necessary for a transformative agenda that addresses race, class and gender inequalities in our country.

“Of course, you can’t have non-racialism 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,” said Mr Yunus Carrim, Chairperson of the committee.

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.

The committee believes that Members of Parliament need to guard against fueling the increasing racial polarization of the country while being unapologetic in campaigning vigorously to reduce the huge racial and class divides of the country. 

Once again, the committee has called on the Minister and National Treasury to ensure greater racial and gender representativity in the department’s senior official ranks and encourage a new generation to emerge that draws on the experience of the veteran officials.  

“All MPs, not just Mr Shivambu, should not abuse our rights to speak freely in terms of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities Act. The committee repeats its concern that Members of Parliament can attack any member of the public as being corrupt without that person having the right of a reply within a committee, instead of having to going through a torturous petition process via Parliament’s Secretary, which is hardly ever done,” said Mr Carrim.

The committee understands that although officials can reply within a committee to attacks on their integrity, they are restrained because they are not covered by the Immunities Act as well as given the balance of power between them and Members of Parliament.

The Committee has written to the Office of the Speaker about this before and will do so again.

Lastly, the committee has noted that Mr Shivambu was, unfortunately, not in today’s meeting, but Members decided it was necessary to issue a statement on behalf of the Committee anyway.

Issued by Yunus Carrim, Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Finance, Parliament, 6 June 2018