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Jessie Duarte’s version of reality takes us through t...

Defend Truth


Jessie Duarte’s version of reality takes us through the looking glass and into Wonderland


Palesa Morudu is a writer.

Jessie Duarte’s Opinionista piece in Daily Maverick has all the marks of a hatchet job intended to mobilise political support to collapse the Zondo Commission. In this version, there was no grand theft orchestrated by her comrades and Zondo is parading a series of sorcerers with overactive imaginations.

Boiled down from its sheer incoherence (no easy task!), Jessie Duarte’s 1,618-word opus in Daily Maverick (“Testimony at Zondo Commission is an onslaught against the People themselves”, 9 February 2021) is simply a lie in the service of national looting.  

Yet, for the deputy secretary-general of the African National Congress, a lie is not enough. So the intrepid Duarte drags acclaimed writer Ben Okri into her service (without his approval, we would guess), and invokes the memory of Nelson Mandela, Albertina Sisulu, and Ray Alexander. This approach alone would have been sufficient to leave most readers retching, but she persisted for good effect.   

For two years, the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture has lifted the veil on the rottenness of the ANC. It must make the ruling party squirm, but some of the brave comrades – and evidently this includes Duarte – will not flinch.  

Packing her pipe with a quote from Okri, like Lewis Carroll’s hookah-smoking caterpillar, she becomes Jessie in Wonderland. In this version, there was no grand theft orchestrated by her comrades. Zondo is parading a series of sorcerers with overactive imaginations who are feeding tales to an unsuspecting nation. In doing so she manages to insult 57 million South Africans. 

In the same book that Duarte misrepresents (A Way of Being Free), Okri writes that “The worst realities of our age are manufactured realities.” How apt.  

In Duarte’s twisted world, former leaders of the ANC like Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu would agree that “democratic centralism” not only justifies the ANC’s failure to hold Jacob Zuma accountable for grand theft but demands the need for it to be covered up.   

Without a hint of irony, Duarte would have us believe that the notorious Guptas arrived in South Africa as the “interrupters of the status quo”. In other words, they came to disrupt “white monopoly capital”. And the criminality at the Gupta compound “may, at times, have been innocent friends visiting each other, but now it has become an undressing of the state machinery.”   

Here we would agree. The emperor has no clothes.  

Duarte can wrap herself in the Madiba magic all she wants. She mentions him seven times. History tells us that she was among the first cadres to dress up the state machinery to her liking. Back in 1998, as Gauteng MEC of safety and security, she lied about having a driver’s licence, took a companion on an overseas trip without authorisation, and appointed an unqualified person to a senior position. The Moerane Commission on the saga found against her. Mandela was embarrassed enough given that Duarte was his former personal assistant.   

Duarte’s piece has all the marks of a hatchet job intended to mobilise political support to collapse the Zondo Commission. She has positioned Zondo as an opponent of “democratic centralism” (read: the party’s decision-making method, which is evidently above the law), arguing that the practice is “now the subject of a commission led by a judge who, with respect, practices his craft based on the narrow parameters of existing laws. One can only hope that the Zondo Commission is not going to turn our democracy into more of a neo-liberal concoction than it already is; where we all sound the same and do nothing real to transform our society.”  

In other words, the Zondo Commission is an anti-majoritarian counterrevolutionary project. We’ve heard it before, and we know where it will go. 

Beware of Jessie Duarte. DM 




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All Comments 18

  • Well done, Palesa, for seeing the reality of this deceitful and immoral degenerate, so typically of her ilk, for what she really is. 👏👏

  • An excellent riposte to a tendentious piece of propaganda-cum-gutter-journalism-of-the-most-vile-kind.

    However, I fear it will be lost on Duarte’s actual target audience. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that she doesn’t need to convince any DM readers or, for that matter, anyone else who can see through her self-serving drivel; all she needs to do is to tell a significant portion of the ANC what they in any case want to hear, and thereby affix, from on high, her stamp of approval on their normal dubious behaviour—which is precisely in line with the collectivist ethos she’s so vigorously punting.

    Beware of Jessie Duarte, indeed!

  • Well written
    Astounding that a person like Duarte has such a senior position and such power
    Hopefully the law which she derides, will eventually win against the rampant corruption

    • Perhaps in her eagerness to rubbish the commission she forgets that the laws they abide by are those of her government and in accord with the principles enshrined in our constitution. She lost her moral compass decades ago and is an embarrassment to the legacy of the stalwarts she tries to harness as allies to her cause. Another political narcissist, hopefully exiting soon presumably stage left.

  • Will her son, husband and son in law also answer questions at Zondo? Ian Whitley‘s appointment as advisor to weekend-special Finance Minister Van Rooyen was probably the start of the media investigation into state capture.

  • Well said Palesa. You are going to have to write this in another language for Jess to understand. Perhaps ANClese if you can learn it.

  • Another excellent piece pulling apart the unreality that the leaders of the ANC reside in.

    The only question is: how do we bring them into the world the rest of South Africa lives in?

  • Tannie Jessie disqualified herself by believing that “democratic centralism” has got anything to do with democracy. It is totally undemocratic.

  • Wow, great rebuttal of the deceit of the spokeswoman of the ruling elite. Duarte’s words are that of the stalinist tormentor of 1984 whose creed is that
    “Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else. Not in the individual mind, which can make mistakes, and in any case soon perishes: only in the mind of the Party, which is collective and immortal. Whatever the Party holds to be the truth, is truth.”

  • This woman has long been the attack dog of the ANC; her article just strips her bare, and unequivocally shows who she is. In my mind’s eye, I see her as Madame Defarge, collecting the guillotine’s gruesome harvest of blood-stained heads in her wicker basket, whilst she sits and knits. From the tenor of her article she clearly believes her basket can contain all 57 million of us.

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