ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

In the weekly instalment of an ahistoricism that has begun to define elements of the ruling ANC, deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte has outdone herself. Duarte claimed this week that Tony Yengeni, the ANC’s latest figurehead in its, um, fight against corruption, had done "nothing wrong".

"The conviction of Comrade Tony Yengeni worries many in the ANC. What are we saying? If you negotiate a vehicle in this country you dare not negotiate a discount because that’s corruption?"

Well, that’s not what anyone is saying. Nor, in fact, is that what Yengeni was found guilty of.

So, Ms Duarte, here’s a refresher: Yengeni accepted a discount from arms-deal bidder Daimler-Chrysler Aerospace while he chaired a committee on the acquisition of defence equipment — to be supplied by that bidder. In other words, that "discount" was a clear-cut case of conflict of interest. Yengeni admitted he’d violated his parliamentary position and the trust of the public when he cut a plea deal for which he received four years’ jail, even if he served only four months.

Facts matter, as will the ANC’s record of mismanagement and corruption when voters go to the polls next year. Duarte would be better served by acknowledging that many of the choices made were the wrong ones, rather than seeking to rewrite history to suit herself.