National Treasury deputy director-general Ismail Momoniat, whom the EFF's Floyd Shivambu wanted expelled from a parliamentary meeting, played a committed role in the struggle against apartheid and was at the forefront of formulating legislation that holds government and public entities accountable today.
Journalist and author Pippa Green, who penned "Choice not Fate: The Life and Times of Trevor Manuel", slammed Shivambu's labelling of Momoniat, saying it is ironic that the EFF, which was vocal against the controversial state capture-accused Gupta family, is now attacking the members of Treasury who stood in defiance of corruption.
Business Day reported that there was a heated exchange took place Tuesday in Parliament's finance committee meeting, when EFF chief whip Shivambu objected to a Treasury representative, claiming he was "not an African".
In an interview with HuffPost, Green detailed Momoniat's contribution to the fight against apartheid and his influence on legislation at Treasury.
"He was a struggle activist whose family was moved to Lenasia under the Group Areas Act. Momoniat played a key role in starting the Transvaal Indian Congress and the United Democratic Front thereafter. With the TIC, they made important contacts with African activists, and this became the genesis for the UDF forming. He was detained in the early Eighties and became a UDF activist after his release," Green said.
"Momoniat joined Treasury at the dawn of democracy and served under Trevor Manuel, where he really came into his own. He was very committed to public service and was instrumental in the [formulation] of the Public Finance Management Act, which was passed in 1999. This document holds the heads of departments, public entities and government to account."
Green said Momoniat was one of the people "steeped in the struggle" against apartheid.
"The irony here is the same political party who were attacking the Guptas are now attacking people who defied the Guptas. They are saying he is not African, but he is steeped in the struggle as a South African — and is an example of a person trying to build democratic accountability."
In a statement after the parliamentary exchange, the EFF released a statement supporting Shivambu's comments.
"Momoniat has assigned to himself virtually all powers of National Treasury," the party claimed, "micromanages its entities and also try to micromanage Parliamentary legislative processes. 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. [sic]"
Momoniat now serves as a deputy director-general at Treasury in charge of the tax and financial sector policy.
His position overlooks financial-sector development, financial stability, economic tax analysis and legal tax design. He is responsible for proposing the reforms for a financial sector regulatory framework, including the shift towards a "twin peak model", as well as for tax policy and legislation.