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President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks during the funeral of ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte in Joburg on Sunday. Picture: ANTONIO MUCHAVE/SOWETAN
President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks during the funeral of ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte in Joburg on Sunday. Picture: ANTONIO MUCHAVE/SOWETAN

Comrades, it is time to start thinking about the movement’s impact on your legacy. Jessie Duarte’s death this week saw many pained and conflicted obituaries.

She was a formidable woman — but one whose loyalty to the ANC blinded her to its excesses and the injustices she so ardently fought against.

She joined the chorus of sexist attacks on former public protector Thuli Madonsela from the ANC, despite her lifelong fight for gender equality. She abhorred corruption, yet she instructed ANC MPs to ignore the damning evidence of state capture during the presidency of Jacob Zuma.

Above all, Duarte was a party hack — it was her biggest strength, and her biggest failing.

As ANC spokesperson, she brooked no criticism of the party’s excesses and would aggressively shut down attempts to hold it accountable.

Just as the ANC makes its leaders, it also breaks them. Comrades, you would do well to remember Mark Antony’s words at Julius Caesar’s funeral: “The evil that men do lives after them: the good is oft interred with their bones.” 

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