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Jessie Duarte confirms ruling party’s idea of governa...

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Jessie Duarte confirms ruling party’s idea of governance is incompatible with the Constitution


In real life, Professor Balthazar is one of South Africa’s foremost legal minds. He chooses to remain anonymous, so it doesn’t interfere with his daily duties.

What turned the country into a rent-seeking concoction was not the Constitution, but the intensity of State Capture that occurred under Zuma’s watch. Someone should let the ANC deputy secretary-general know.

There has been a deluge of criticism directed against the opinion piece published in Daily Maverick by the ANC Deputy Secretary-General, Jessie Duarte. It is most unfair to Duarte. We should all be indebted to the deputy SG of the ruling party for confirming that which her boss, the Secretary-General, Ace Magashule had said earlier, when he defended Jacob Zuma’s attitude to the Zondo Commission. 

One must accept that both the SG and the DSG have responded to the Zondo Commission with exquisite levels of slogans and an equally impressive lack of logic. But shining through Duarte’s contribution lies the exact reason why the ruling party and the Constitution will invariably be at war with each other.

In a revealing passage, Duarte writes:

“It is not the democratic system that is the problem – rather it is the fact that the ANC lives, the ANC leads and that our people, despite the ramblings of the few who testified at the commission, continue to put their hopes and trust in the ANC.”

For Duarte the ANC equals the people – the ANC is the people, the ANC reflects the volksgeist and hence any and everything the ANC does is equivalent to the decision of the people.

Leave aside the fact that ANC’s electoral support is well below 50%, if its vote in the national election is calculated as a percentage of eligible voters in the country. That matters little in the Stalinist paradigm that influenced ANC policy in the years in exile. And if that seems a harsh criticism, consider the following passage from Duarte’s column:

“More worrying is that democratic centralism is now the subject of a commission led by a judge who, with respect, practices [sic] 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.”

Let us be clear: when Duarte employs the term democratic centralism, she is far more concerned about centralism than democracy. She means that, when faced with a conflict between a constitutional obligation sourced in the fundamental law of the country and obeisance to party bosses, the latter will always win out. That is exactly, a few exceptions aside, what happened in Parliament when most ANC MPs followed central instructions throughout the Zuma years and thus helped facilitate a frenzied level of corruption that diverted massive amounts of money from ensuring meaningful transformation of the lives of millions of South Africans – who, more than a quarter of a century into democracy, continue to live at the extreme margins – into the pockets of the Guptas and their fellow travellers.

And in what world would Duarte have us live when she claims that meetings with the Guptas could have been mere tea-drinking events? There is not a word from the deputy SG about the vast sums of the people’s money (yes, Ms Duarte, the people, such a forgotten concept) that landed up in offshore bank accounts owned by the Guptas, if credible evidence is any guide.

(These would be the same Guptas that were sanctioned by the US under the Magnitsky Act, an honour reserved mostly for Russian oligarchs.)

Then there is the ritual invocation of neo-liberalism. What turned the country into a rent-seeking concoction was not the Constitution, but the intensity of State Capture that occurred under Zuma’s watch. It is about as breathtaking a claim to conflate the values of accountability and transparency that have been vindicated by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s meticulous handling of the commission with the neo-liberal war cry, as it is to invoke Nelson Mandela in aid of an attack on a judicial commission appointed by Zuma himself.

Duarte has repeated the approach that Ace Magashule has consistently adopted to the commission. That means that the two most senior public officials of the ruling party (other than the president) have sought to undermine the most important mechanism available at present which may place the people, as Duarte is wont to say, in meaningful knowledge as to precisely how much corruption, rent-seeking and destruction of key institutions of state took place, purportedly in the name of the people. 

But her column is even more significant, as it reveals the tenacious commitment to centralism born in a discredited ideology more than 100 years ago, a conflation of the ruling party with the people and a total disdain for the constitutional values of transparency and accountability of public representatives to the public they serve. 

Thank you, Ms Duarte, for confirming that the ruling party’s idea of governance is incompatible with a social democratic constitution. If your ideas are not unequivocally rebuked by the ANC, we can then all draw the obvious inference about the future of constitutional democracy in this country. DM


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All Comments 15

  • If the populace votes in the sordid soiled mess of the ANC into power in the next election, their future will be sealed by the axiom: `We don’t mind being robbed and betrayed by a political party, as long as it’s Black, we will tolerate the plunder’. Well then Dear Safricans who can or can’t read this, you’ve consciously made your bed, now sleep in it.

    • If only our nation had a credible, broad-based opposition that was perceived as being for all the people, rather than only working for the interests of a narrow (white) elite – perhaps ‘the people’ WOULD choose to vote for a party other than the one that they perceive liberated them from Apartheid.
      Sadly, that is not the case in South Africa.

    • 1994 to 2021. From Saint to rambling Intellectual to conniving, corrupt, lying, evil…. Megalomaniac. And now to someone who, for 8 long years, unashamedly supported the shenanigans of the conniving….! Sadly, you can now authoritatively say the bed has consistently been made, for all to lie in for a long, long time to come.
      A luta continua!

  • Thank you for pointing out that all this tea-drinking (how is it that in a country of bingeing beer-drinkers tea has become the beverage of the sinister shady?) is not a game of fund shifting among connected elite but is a direct theft of the people’s money. Every time one sees the shacks on railway lines and river banks, the bare clinics with no supplies, the mud schools without water, the queues for grants and food one must remember that the money to fix that was allowed out of the kitty by this ANC. Simple but heart breaking.

  • Jessie needs to firstly learn what democracy means and secondly she needs to drop the pseudo Marxist jargon she learnt as a young ANC comrade. She reveals exactly why SA is in the mess it’s in if she is a yardstick of ANC leadership.

    • Jessie and Elias are obviously the best leaders that the anc has, otherwise they wouldn’t be in the positions they occupy. Imagine how retarded the rest must be?

  • Jessie is a midget when it comes to intellect and thinking rationally, but a mountain of deceit, dishonesty and immorality. She has to close rank with her boss, the equally odious, corrupt and unscrupulous SG. Apart from Cyril and Mashable, the rest of the NEC are of bunch of misfits and degenerates of the highest order. Can you imagine these braindead and wayward psychopaths having to earn a living based on merit, talent, hard work, intelligence and doing right, instead of being masters of wrong, dishonesty and grand theft. I suppose we have to be forever grateful to Mabuza as he voted for Cyril – we would be living under the putrid regime of Zumba, NDZ, Guptas, Magashule etc.

  • Deny, deny, deny. In the face of incompetence and corruption on a grand scale on the part of party deployees,
    Duarte has the gall to try to deflect from the issues.
    Shame on her and her like in the ANC. History will judge them harshly as they have dirt on their hands.

    • No Miles, they have money in their accounts, they care not for history but for the Rands at their disposal. I agree with the rest of your points.

  • A split in the ANC is now inevitable. If Mr President had acted sooner, the split would have already taken place. Zuma & Ace cronies in one direction, our President & his Honest Brokers in the other direction. We already know which way the EFF will go.

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