Jessie Duarte: Tributes Pour In For ANC DSG Jessie Duarte.. Tributes are pouring in after ANC bigwig and struggle icon Jessie Duarte, a fearsome figurehead in the fight to bring an end to white minority rule, passed away on Sunday morning.
Duarte, deputy secretary general of the ANC, succumbed to cancer at the age of 68.
“She was a feisty, fiery and smart politician,” her friend and former public enterprises minister Lynne Brown told Weekend Argus.
“Jessie was also a very good mother and a very good friend… I saw her last week.”
Zizi Kodwa, ANC National Executive Committee member, said he was also saddened by the death of Duarte, who will be buried Sunday afternoon.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation said its joining many in saying hamba kahle to an outstanding South African.
“We have been deeply saddened to hear that comrade Jessie Duarte has passed away.”
The foundation added: “We send heartfelt condolences to her family, friends and comrades… Jessie’s extraordinarily rich life intersected with that of Nelson Mandela and with the journey of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
“Together with Barbara Masekela, between 1990 and 1994 she gave Madiba the dedicated executive assistance he needed in those tumultuous years of transition.
“She became both comrade and friend to him… She will be missed.”
Duarte, who was a mother of two, was described by the DA’s Helen Zille as the central figure who had to hold all the ANC’s threads together.
“I’m the equivalent of the deputy secretary-general of the DA and I know how incredibly difficult it is to keep an organised party together… I can’t imagine how difficult it must’ve been to hold the ANC, with all its wars and factions, together,” Zille told Weekend Argus.
“The woes of the ANC weighed very heavily on her shoulders… It was a very, very, very challenging job for her especially when there was such a war around the figure of the secretary general, Ace Magashule.”
The ANC itself released a statement saying it mourns the passing of Duarte, who was South Africa’s ambassador to Mozambique between 1999 and 2003.
“The passing of Comrade Jessie is a great loss, not only to the family, but to the democratic movement and the country as a whole,” the party’s Pule Mabe said.
“As a committed internationalist and former diplomat, not only will she be mourned by South Africa, but by colleagues and comrades on the African continent and in the international progressive movement.”
The ANC’s deputy chief whip in the Western Cape, Khalid Sayed, said the news of her passing is devastating.
“Personally as a young leader in the ANC, I have lost a mentor who guided me, supported me and believed in my growth even through the most challenging times,” he said.
“She played a pivotal role in shaping my political development and that of many young fellow comrades.”
On January 7 2021, Duarte announced that she would be retiring as deputy secretary-general of the ANC at the party’s next conference in 2022.
“She was a fierce and unapologetic defender of the Palestinian cause and struggle against Israeli Apartheid,” said the human rights organisation #Africa4Palestine.
“For her role she is celebrated by peace loving peoples the world over. Duarte was an internationalist who stood with the peoples of Palestine, Cuba, Venezuela, Western Sahara and all other oppressed nations.“
The political movement ActionSA said: “We extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of acting ANC Secretary-General, Jessie Duarte, who passed away in the early hours of this morning. We further extend our condolences to the ANC for the loss of one of its leaders.”
The GOOD party said it has learned with “deep sadness” of Duarte’s passing.
“As the party, we would like to express our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of Duarte, as well as her political colleagues in the ANC.
“Duarte will be dearly missed and remembered for her contribution to the freedom of South Africa, with a life dedicated to the struggle against apartheid.”