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Clearly, Jessie Duarte drank the Kool-Aid; in the proce...

Defend Truth

Opinionista

Clearly, Jessie Duarte drank the Kool-Aid; in the process, her morality was consumed

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Trevor Manuel served as Minister of Finance from 1996 to 2009, during the presidencies of Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe, and subsequently as Minister in the Presidency for the National Planning Commission from 2009 to 2014 under President Jacob Zuma.

The ANC deputy secretary-general reveals no understanding of the ethics that shaped a movement and enabled it to take on a system, nor does she reveal an iota of recognition that the ANC is mandated to serve the people, not the leadership.

In 1978, the Rev Jim Jones persuaded his cult followers to drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid and more than 900 of them died. Since then, the phrase “Drink the Kool-Aid” describes people who follow leaders unthinkingly, as in a cult. From reading the article by Jessie Duarte under the rubric “Testimony at Zondo Commission is an onslaught against the People”, I am convinced that she drank the Kool-Aid and that her morality was thereby consumed.

Let us remind ourselves that the “Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture”, with a subheading “Corruption and Fraud in the Public Sector including Organs of State”, was launched by then president Jacob Zuma in January 2018. The establishment and the terms of reference of the commission were an executive decision by the then president. In signing and announcing the executive decision, there was no gun to his head. 

Zuma said, “The commission must seek to uncover not just the conduct of some, but of all those who may have rendered our state or parts thereof vulnerable to control by forces other than the public for which government is elected,” and “I urge everyone to cooperate with the commission of inquiry.” I have no doubt that he knew then, as he does now, that his own conduct would be scrutinised by the commission.

Nowhere is “democratic centralism” on trial, because nowhere has there ever been a decision by any organ of either the African National Congress or the state (these are each discrete bodies in law) that had directed its members to commit corruption and fraud and that the execution of these criminal acts should now be defended.

The idea that ANC members are required to support criminality driven by the venal greed of a few is completely antithetical to the most elementary codes of the ANC, the first of which is the oath of membership. Extracts from this oath read: “… that I am joining the Organisation voluntarily and without motives of material advantage and or personal gain”, and “… that I will work towards making the ANC an even more effective instrument of liberation in the hands of the people”. 

What Duarte is now suggesting is that the duty of ANC members is to defend those who did not read the oath of membership and turned their positions in the organisation into instruments for personal gain. Further, that instead of making the party an instrument of liberation in the hands of the people, it should become an instrument that accommodates those in its ranks who steal from the people and impoverishes them forever. How bizarre!

The tragedy is that Duarte reveals no understanding of the ethics that shaped a movement and enabled it to take on a system, nor does she reveal an iota of recognition that the ANC is mandated to serve the people, not the leadership. What she holds up as the revolutionary sounding “Democratic Centralism” is actually nothing short of sheep farming.

The next level of commitment is the oath taken by members of Parliament and all legislatures. This oath binds members to be “faithful to the Republic of South Africa” and to “obey, respect and uphold the Constitution and all other laws of the Republic”. In this context, an executive order creating a commission of inquiry assumes the force of law. Duarte’s sense is that such adherence to law is wrongful, or somehow contrary to the spirit of the ANC. I have news for her – there is nothing that could be described as national, democratic or revolutionary about the theft and pillage being inquired into. Thus, there is nothing in the behaviour of the thieves that can either be masked or protected.

In 2005 the ANC National Executive Committee adopted a position titled “Revolutionary Morality”. Let me quote from that document: “A system of ethics must, at its core, be based on the need for politicians to take responsibility for their actions and events both individually and collectively. Without responsibility, there can be no accountability. The system of accountability that the ANC has put in place, both in statute and in practice, is based on the need for those in power to take responsibility.”

The tragedy is that Duarte reveals no understanding of the ethics that shaped a movement and enabled it to take on a system, nor does she reveal an iota of recognition that the ANC is mandated to serve the people, not the leadership. What she holds up as the revolutionary sounding “Democratic Centralism” is actually nothing short of sheep farming.

Last week the Zondo Commission dealt, at some length, with the matter of parliamentary oversight of the executive. I want to refer to the testimony of two witnesses whose testimony adequately described the contradictions and conflict of values. 

First, there was the testimony of Zukiswa Daphne Rantho, who had chaired an inquiry into Eskom in Parliament in 2017. I am sure that many readers will recall her dignified leadership of the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises as it drilled into the malfeasance at Eskom. She explained in the course of her testimony that the consequences of her leadership were that she was not nominated for Parliament in 2019. As a consequence of her brave, principled and ethical stance she was rendered unemployed.

In contrast, there was the testimony of Dikeledi Magadzi, who chaired the Portfolio Committee on Transport. Part of what transpired on her watch was that the committee’s attention was drawn to the allegation that a contract valued at R51-billion had been awarded by Prasa to the Gupta family and Duduzane Zuma. Magadzi declined to convene an inquiry into this by the transport committee. She later said that her responsibility was not to question the ANC on the reasons for decisions. Magadzi was, of course, returned to Parliament in 2019 and thereafter further rewarded with a position of deputy minister, which she still occupies.

Duarte would have us believe that the contrast between the two witnesses is that Rantho is ill-disciplined while Magadzi is representative of the character of the ANC and of what she calls “Democratic Centralism”. How plainly wrong she is!

I want to ask Duarte, what happened to the Yasmin Dangor she once was? Was it only the Kool-Aid she drank, or was there something else, deep and dangerous? I want to say to her that many of us are aligned with the stance of Zukiswa Rantho. In fact, We are Zukiswa Rantho. Ethics matter! DM

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All Comments 56

  • Well said! I’d love to see her response to this. I’d also like to hear her explain how her son-in-law Ian Whitley found himself in a position to work for “Finance Minister” Des Van Rooyen. I expect that she’d say she had no part in it….. and expect ordinary South Africans to believe and accept this.

  • Thank you Mr. Manuel,
    Your message must be spread beyond the pages of DM into every house, nook and cranny, to show the cadres which direction is best for The Country on their moral compass.

  • Taking cognisance of her warped reasoning & perverted priorities, there can be little doubt that she drank more than the Kool-Aid.

    Thank you Mr. Manuel for an excellent article.

  • Not only drank the “kool-aid” but she likely helped mix it too…. Duarte always put the Party interests before what was best for the People and enabled the corrupt

  • Talking truth to power. Thank you. We are all devastated by the blind leadership with no desire to understand the implications of their actions on the poorest of the poor.
    The same apparently noble idea of revolutionary seizure of property without compensation, will lead to the final destruction of hope for South Africans. Was the seizure of property from the San and the Khoi OK simply because those who did so came from the same continent?

    • “We are all devastated by the blind leadership with no desire to understand the implications of their actions on the poorest of the poor.”
      I disagree. It’s not that they don’t understand, it’s just that they don’t give a damn about the poor or the rest of our country, as long as they are handsomely rewarded for their fealty to the ANC

  • A split in the ANC is the solution, let those who drank “Kool-Aid” form an unholy alliance with the Zuma faction and the EFF, with the remaining politicians, should they sincerely have the real interests of South Africa at heart, form an alliance of moral integrity and good governance………optimistic, unrealistic thinking??

    • Oh Andrew, if only. That would actually provide an opposition to the current rulers who are acting as a dictatorial government with no basically no current opposition.

  • I wish there was one person in the current ANC who thought like you Trevor. Unfortunately I’m beginning to doubt that even Cyril is any better. Just one question… Upon joining the ANC and reciting the sentence ““… that I am joining the Organisation voluntarily and without motives of material advantage and or personal gain” – is it essential to keep a straight face? 🤔

  • Thank you. Many non-ANC members have in the past expressed the view that a strong ANC, running the country, is good for South Africa. Reading the basic principles as stated above, and under the leadership of people like Mr Manuel and other “stalwarts”, this remains true. This then emphasises the crisis brought on by the lack of principle that the Zuma/Magashule/Duarte (et al) faction brings to the fore.

    It is imperative that the old ANC restores itself. It cannot be allowed that the moral corruption in the party goes past tipping point.

  • I am no political expert, often my opinions deservedly get trashed 🙃. If I belonged to the ANC I would leave and start a new version, after all when my motor car is stolen by thugs it retains its identity but is now in the control of criminals…. I see a few good people and admirable people in the ANC and hope there are more. I wish They would move out and be the change we need, The ANC was hijacked long ago!

  • While Mr Manuel’s piece is well crafted and well received. It seems to elucidate what the ANC’s official promises to, and undertakings for, the country are. But all the available evidence strongly supports the view that that’s all they are: Official promises that can be, and usually are, irreparably broken at the drop of a tender. In other words, hot air on stilts.

    More specifically, the article errs crucially where it says (¶5), “The idea that ANC members are required to support criminality driven by THE VENAL GREED OF A FEW is completely antithetical to the most elementary codes of the ANC, the first of which is the oath of membership.” (Emphasis added.) Come now, let’s be forthright about it: It’s decidedly NOT just a few who eagerly infect themselves with such a malady. Again, extant evidence clearly shows that for years already it’s pretty much been SOP for ANC deployees, and the ones who call attention to it are the exceptions. Your run-of-the-mill ANC cadre continues their own moral abasement more or less unhindered at the expense of the ANC’s credibility and the country’s prosperity.

    And it would constitute an egregious and systematic ethical failure if such conduct was not “completely antithetical to the most elementary codes of the ANC,” yet there are no apparent consequences for breaches of these codes. And that, in a nutshell, is why the ANC has for years already been busy committing suicide on the instalment plan.

  • An excellent analysis by Mr Manuel. One of the very few ANC members who have my respect. However, I have a question.

    If I wanted to join the ANC today I would presumably have to take the oath of membership and that I would work towards “….. making the ANC an even more effective instrument of liberation”. Now what exactly do we need liberation from?

    The only thing this country needs now is liberation from the ANC.

  • It seems like the ANC Kool-Aid has special properties; it wears-off after you no longer derive a direct benefit from their largesse and it provides amnesia to your own participation in the glorification and support of corrupt individuals

  • Jessie does the anc stalwarts mentioned a disservice by implying that they would support her point of view. Did they do what she and her ilk are doing? She implies that …. and who knew them better than jessie herself?

  • Nice Trevor. Duarte’s hands are covered in crumbs from the cookie jar whether she put them in her pocket or not. Time will tell. I expect she will also have her day in court.

  • Brilliant! At least there are some moral and upright members of a severely tarnished and putrid movement, who can clearly see what is right and what is wrong. Unfortunately, Trevor, you are part of the decent old guard and not the diabolical, thieving and self-serving degenerates that are in control. I exclude Cyril as he is the best that we have got and needs the full support of the nation in confronting and exorcizing these demons once and for all. The reality is that the anc will be in power for a long time to come.

  • Thank You Mr Manuel for calling out Jessie Duarte and her position. Yes, we have massive corruption within the ANC and it must be called out. My father’s favourite saying in the old apartheid days – also on the back of our old coins “eendracht maakt macht”…”maar apartheid breek my krag”. The motto “eendracht maakt macht” originally coined by the Dutch derived from the Latin phrase concordia res parvae crescunt (“small things flourish by concord”). Direct English translation “In Unity is Strength” i.e. what our President is trying to do within the ANC. Unfortunately, the party we look up to for being a tool delivering our freedom, is now a tool for the RET / Factionalist forces – Mrs Duarte we are not all sheep.

  • Thank you, Mr Trevor Manuel. Your article is a breath of fresh air. It now exposes the factions in the top six and shows the camp that Jesse Duarte (Yasmin Dangor) belongs to!
    Must be very difficult for the President to steer the ship when you have these as your co-pilots.

  • Well said Trevor, and from moral high ground. I just wonder how many of your ilk are left? Remember the story of Lot in the Bible? Don’t look back when you flee Sodom…

  • Thank you for this, Mr Manuel. However, I disagree with your view as expressed in the penultimate paragraph – Magadzi is precisely representative of the character of the ANC.

  • At last, an ANC member and a previous Minister of Finance, that is prepared to stand up to Jessie Duarte, the self-proclaimed goddess of South African politics. Incredible how the ANC has declined since the resignation of credible leaders like Mr Manuel, and the advancement of people like Ms Duarte into the so-called Top 6 of the ANC….of course, during the disastrous reign of a mad man called Jacob Zuma

  • Brilliantly written Trevor. Your institutional knowledge of the inner workings of the ANC and Parliament was revealing. If we are to become a winning nation, distinguishing itself from the dreadful failures elsewhere on our continent, we can’t have misguided people like Jessie pronouncing on sovereign policy matters. Substantially more emphasis needs to be placed on education and technical skills and the prevention of theft of hard-earned taxpayer money,far more which should be channelled in that direction rather than to the likes of the Guptas, Duduzane and their ilk!
    Mavuso Msimang and other Stalwarts would agree with you wholeheartedly, Trevor.Thanks.

  • Thank you Mr Manuel! Back in 2002 you were Minister of Finance responsible for the introduction of the FAIS Act. Its primary objective is to protect the South African public from incompetent and dishonest financial service providers. This was a sensible strategy and benefitted all South Africans (Except the dishonest and incompetent financial advisors.) At its core are two main components:
    1. Fit & Proper requirements dealing with competence, integrity and experience;
    2. Personal Accountability.
    Combined I believe they have resulted in better outcomes for the South African public.
    The ANC led government voted this bill into law, but I cannot understand why the same principles have not been applied to all public representatives. It is clear that the prejudice being experienced by the South African public due to incompetence, a complete lack of integrity, no understanding of fiduciary responsibility, and ZERO personal accountability of elected representatives and members of the civil service, is far greater than was ever the case with the financial services sector. Maybe the time has come to “Copy & Paste” the FAIS Act into the public sector? I understand that (just like many in financial services) a large proportion of the affected people will oppose it, but I would like to hear a rational argument why it should not be implemented. If it is not implemented, is the state not unfairly discriminating against the financial services sector, in breach of the Constitution?

  • Perhaps TM should disavow the ANC in the upcoming local elections, and actively campaign against them in the Western Cape, would really want them ru(in)ning another province and city?

  • “Ethics matter !” for some of us … but not Jessie it seems !
    Having quoted Madiba “There are many theoretical debates about the meaning of democracy that I am not qualified to enter into.” … she enters into a tedious homily about it (in the guise of democratic centralism) … thus laying waste to what Madiba in his characteristic humility had eschewed from doing ! And then the jewel in the crown quotation “There are good men and women to be found in all groups and sectors of society;” … but no, according to Jessie’s logic, they all reside within the monolithic ANC, while all other formations are enemies of the ‘people’! I am not sure if Madiba would be proud of a ‘student’ of this intellectual calibre … and who is in the highest escelons of the organisation?

  • Clearly Mr Manuel’s riposte is ethically appropriate and it has been taken well, at face value, by many readers. However, the real challenge in accepting his arguments on their merits, is that he continues to sentimentally conflate the original ethical values of the ANC with those that now overwhelmingly define it. No matter how attached he may be to the Congress, by virtue of his moral struggles against apartheid, along with many other virtuous members, he must now surely be desirous of dispossessing himself of kinship to a political party that has no moral fibre left to deploy. He casually plies the defence – “venal greed of a FEW (own emphasis)” – with no apparent hesitation in belief that corruption with the ANC is not pervasive or that the party is somehow redeemable. His argument is akin to the hope that many citizens pinned upon President Ramaphosa in 2017/18, with belief in ‘Ramaphoria’. The personification of ‘good’
    and ‘bad’ elements within the ANC, whilst juxtaposing them in some seemingly believable fictional battle, creates the false belief that it is not an irredeemably corrupt and rotten entity that will self-destruct under the weight of its own contradictory forces.

  • What was particularly galling was Duarte attempting to co-opt stalwart heroes of integrity in her smear campaign against DCJ Zondo’s Commission by defending those who have plundered our country’s resources.

  • Jessie Duarte under the rubric “Testimony at Zondo Commission is an onslaught against the People”
    Isn’t that inciteful speech, and thus a criminal offence?
    Would seem quite a swift cure of the gangrene….
    Ugh, what people say to earn a buck… Even Prostitutes have more of an ethical backbone

  • And yet nobody gets fired. Lived in the UK and Aus. Rightfully there, a politician fell on their sword at a wiff of any wrongdoing and was ostracised. The ANC is taking too long to purge these criminals. The poor will suffer the most.

  • Well stated Mr Manuel. This kind of attitude that Ms Duarte displays is unfortunately what we perceive in most of the leaders in the NEC. Protecting one another as they impoverish the State and therefore the people of South Africa.

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