The EFF-Treasury-Yunus Carrim-Ismail Momoniat Imbroglio

By Sam Ditshego

Yunus Carrim

“Then there is the Indian foreign minority group. This group came to this country not as imperialists or colonialists but as indentured labourers. In the South African set-up of today, this group is an oppressed minority. But there are some members of this group, the merchant class in particular, who have become tainted with the virus of cultural supremacy and national arrogance. This class identifies itself by and large with the oppressor but, significantly, this is the group which provides the political leadership of the Indian people in South Africa. And all that the politics of this class have meant up to now is preservation and defence of the sectional interests of the Indian merchant class. The down-trodden, poor “stinking coolies” of Natal who, alone, as a result of the pressure of material conditions, can identify themselves with the indigenous African majority in the struggle to overthrow White supremacy, have not yet produced their leadership. We hope they will do so soon”, Professor Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe in his 1959 PAC inaugural address from Selected speeches of Robert Sobukwe and a mini-biography Compiled by Sinethemba Sembene Mandyoli.

The EFF-Treasury imbroglio with Yunus Carrim regarding Ismail Momoniat demonstrates that some people and organisations do not want to learn from history. And those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The opening quote, as I have acknowledged, is an excerpt from PAC founding President Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe’s 1959 inaugural address delivered almost six decades ago. On the 6th April next year, it will be sixty years since Sobukwe gave that inaugural speech. But the ANC has not learned anything from Sobukwe.

In March this year, I wrote an article in the Sunday Independent in which I raised concern about the condescending attitude to Africans of some South African Indians and Asians in general, nevertheless the ANC is impervious to advice.

A background of the story from the press on the EFF-Treasury imbroglio would suffice. There was a spat between South African Parliament’s finance committee chairperson‚ Yunus Carrim with the Chief whip of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Floyd Shivambu. This was a sequel to “a heated exchange in a committee meeting last week when Shivambu objected to a Treasury representative because he was not an African”.

Shivambu objected to the repeated presence of Treasury deputy director general Ismail Momoniat at committee meetings and asked why director general Dondo Mogajane did not appear. He said this undermined African “representativeness”.

 “The attack on the integrity of the Ministry of Finance and National Treasury by the EFF is exceptional because of its vitriol and simply the scale of the EFF’s ignorance of the workings of the Treasury and the ministry‚” Treasury said.

“The EFF’s attacks on Treasury are based on ignorance of the policy-making function of the National Treasury (the department) and the Ministry of Finance (as the executive authority which has oversight over the department), how the Treasury functions and its relationship with the Ministry of Finance.

“The EFF also displays a gross misunderstanding of parliamentary processes. Furthermore‚ the EFF has abused parliamentary privilege to throw mud at Treasury staff.”

I hold no brief for the EFF. However, what is wrong with the questions they posed about this Momoniat? How does the EFF not understand parliamentary processes when they have been there for about five years? And how is a legitimate question interpreted as abusing parliamentary privilege and throwing mud at the Treasury? On the Director General Dondo Mogajane’s side lining and undermining of African representativeness, many people would want to know why his subordinate or junior is always representing their department in parliament. Perhaps it is Mogajane himself or some of his colleagues who leaked that information to the EFF that he is being undermined and that his Indian junior is the one who is preferred by their political bosses. Instead of being obdurate and defending the indefensible, Treasury should stop the practice forthwith. The EFF is probably not interested to know how Treasury functions when it is apparent that it is flouting the rules. As a tax payer I am also not interested how Treasury functions when it is abundantly clear that Treasury is flaunting its flouting of the rules. I think other South Africans feel the same way I feel.

The overlooking of the Director General raises eyebrows. It gives the impression that Treasury is hiding something. It appears Treasury is covering up corruption. I wonder if people know that billions of Rands of Special Pension funds were squandered and that it is alleged that with his short stint as Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba pleaded with a Non-Governmental Organisation not to go to court and instead settle the matter out of court. Because Gigaba knows about this scandal he might not face the chop as a cabinet minisiter lest he spills the beans. The squandering of Special Pension funds must be probed and be exposed because they will subject pressure to bear on the Non-Governmental organisation to which I alluded not to expose the rot.

Frankly, I don’t trust the current crop of leadership. I wish they could emulate Sobukwe who was described by those who knew him such as Z B Molete, former publicity secretary of the PAC, who said, “Sobukwe belongs to a generation of popular but lonely leaders of men who are distinguishable by their devotion, dedication and determination.

“His ability as a leader did not merely lie in seeing what needs to be done but in setting his mind to doing it thoroughly, regardless of the consequences to himself. He was not afraid of isolation or suffering. He was not afraid to stand alone on principle.”

The life story of Sobukwe is a history of service, suffering and sacrifice. He provided principled, consistent, committed, decisive and selfless leadership to the cause of African liberation.

He could have simply not bothered.

He could have lived a comfortable middle-class life with his family. But Sobukwe chose to “starve in freedom rather than to live in opulence in bondage”.

He was a courageous and fearless leader.

He did not mind being ostracised or victimised for “speaking truth to power”.

Sam Ditshego is a researcher

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