Jessie and the ANC money eaters still play the victim card
ANC deputy secretary-general's bizarre radio interview shows she has learnt nothing in the last few years
It was a small story, but given the almost total silence and invisibility of Cyril Ramaphosa and Mmusi Maimane, and the EFF doing nothing but threatening to hold its breath until the grown-ups let it stay up late, it stood out as an important reminder of how we are still teetering on a knife edge, still undecided whether we will choose cautious progress or topple back into the despair of the Zuma era.
Earlier this week, EWN’s Clement Manyathela approached the ANC's deputy secretary-general, Jessie Duarte, and asked her to elaborate on statements, reported by the Sunday Times, implying she believed that Tony Yengeni should never have been jailed.
Duarte was reportedly happy to oblige at first, but after a few minutes she made a dramatic about-turn: she would not allow Manyathela to air the recording she had just agreed to. Her reason? EWN is the sister station of 702, and “702 is owned by people who have historically hated the ANC”.
Apart from the absurdity of an interviewee refusing to comment after having commented, this raised an interesting problem. If Duarte and the ANC think that criticism is hatred, and want to ignore or silence anyone who criticises them, what’s the plan for the millions and millions of South Africans who genuinely do dislike them quite a lot? Are they just going to ignore them? And if so, how is that different from standard ANC service delivery?
More intriguing, however, was the bit where Duarte started talking about her clear conscience.
“There are people [the media] choose, and they say ‘Okay, that one, that’s a good native’. I’m not a good native,” Duarte said. “I’m the kind of native that will always stand up for Justice.”I’ve given “justice” a capital letter here because I assume Duarte was referring to someone called Justice, perhaps a relative of Jacob Zuma. Because over the past 10 years Duarte has stood up for nothing except the Zuma ANC, and, as every South African with the smallest grasp of events now knows, the Zuma ANC stood up for nothing but the right to eat money.
Of course, none of this should be shocking to anyone. Duarte’s decline from firebrand activist to palace fart-catcher has been on public display for a decade.
In 2008, she sang lustily for her supper, claiming that Zuma was being “persecuted” by the NPA over graft charges.
In 2014, after Thuli Madonsela released her report into Nkandla, Duarte and Gwede Mantashe piled in, publicly accusing the public protector of conspiring with the EFF, having a personal vendetta against Zuma, and undermining the constitution.
In 2015, she declared that Zuma’s decision to reverse his appointment of Des van Rooyen as Finance minister “demonstrated bold leadership”.
In 2016, she went on the SABC to explain that criticisms of the Guptas were “tinged with xenophobia” and that their only crime had been to mine coal more cheaply than anyone else, which had seen them “encroaching on old cabals in the mining industry”.
Even as Zuma imploded in January this year, Duarte was still claiming that he had been a victim, “chased in every possible way”, a situation she described as “unfortunate” and “sad”.
State capture verged on treason. Duarte fought incredibly hard to protect its perpetrators and to attack its opponents. The fact that she is still holds a senior position in the party and is still playing the victim while attacking the free press proves that neither she nor the captured ANC have learnt anything in the last few years.
Well, except for one thing: that as long as there are journalists and xenophobes and shadowy cabals and public protectors to blame, you can just keep on eating other people’s money.