Treasury stalwart Ismail Momoniat appointed as acting director-general

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Ismail Momoniat
Ismail Momoniat

Long-serving Treasury official Ismail Momoniat has been appointed as acting director-general, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana announced on Wednesday. 

"Mr Momoniat brings a wealth of experience to the position, having served National Treasury with dedication for 27 years, of which 22 years have been instrumental in leadership of the organisation as a deputy director-general," the minister said in a statement 

"I am confident that Mr Momoniat will keep a steady hand on the till of the organisation, steering the department to meet our strategic agenda while ensuring continuity and stability."

Momoniat is filling the gap left by Dondo Mogajane, who left the director-general post on June 7. Mogajane's contract had come to an end, and he said previously that after serving government for 23 years, he wanted to move on and give others the chance to bring fresh ideas to the table. "I’ve demonstrated my patriotism and my commitment," Mogajane said in April.

According to the ministry, Momoniat has been involved in formulating and designing South Africa's policy and legislative framework for fiscal and financial governance, as well as the tax and financial regulatory system.

He helped to develop the Public Finance Management Act and the Carbon Tax Act. 

In 2018 Momoniat butted heads with the EFF's Floyd Shivambu, who objected to him appearing at a parliamentary hearing and alleged that he "undermines Africans" and "thinks he is superior to them".

Then finance committee chairman Yunus Carrim defended Momoniat as a struggle veteran who had been active in the underground struggle against apartheid

In a subsequent interview with Huffington Post, former journalist and current press ombud Pippa 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 (TIC) 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 also spoke out against state capture and the Guptas, who were recently arrested in the United Arab Emirates. 

He said in an affidavit to the State Capture Commission that former president Jacob Zuma, former mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane and other high-level officials weakened anti-corruption and anti-money laundering legislation, threatened banks and attempted to establish a judicial inquiry into Treasury and the South African Reserve Bank.

In his affidavit, Momoniat set out in detail how Zuma and Zwane established a ministerial task team, bypassing normal Cabinet processes, to "investigate" banks. According to Momoniat, it did not seem like Zwane "knew, or cared, that his actions could cause financial and economic instability".

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