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Duarte hailed an advocate for equality


She became actively involved in politics at an early age and over the years developed a reputation as an activist and an advocate for equality.

Late ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte when she visited the Kramat of Shykh Yusuf in Maccassar during a Heritage Day event.Duarte succumbed to a battle with cancer on Sunday. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

CONDOLENCES have poured in from various political parties on the passing of the ANC’s deputy secretary-general, Jessie Yasmine Duarte.

Duarte was born in Coronationville in Johannesburg, where she grew up and completed her schooling.

She became actively involved in politics at an early age and over the years developed a reputation as an activist and an advocate for equality.

She was recruited by Albertina Sisulu in 1979 to establish women’s structures throughout the country, and by 1981 the ANCWL had nine functioning women’s structures in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Transvaal and others.

Duarte was also serving at that time as the provincial secretary of the Federation of Transvaal Women (Fedsaw), which was a UDF affiliate.

At the ANCs 53rd National Conference in Mangaung in December 2012, Duarte was elected deputy secretary-deneral of the party, and was re-elected to the ANC’s 54th National Conference in Nasrec in 2017.

DA Federal Council chairperson Helen Zille said Duarte was well known for being a fiery character who had worked closely with Walter Sisulu and Nelson Mandela and who held various posts in the party and government.

“The DA extends its sincere condolences to the family and friends of ANC stalwart Jessie Duarte who passed away earlier today following a short illness. Duarte was a dedicated member of the African National Congress and held a number of positions in the South African party-political landscape over many years.”

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) noted that Duarte had represented the country in several senior roles, including as Ambassador to Mozambique.

“As the IFP, we regret the loss of an individual who understood the need for the reconciliation agenda between the IFP and the ANC.

“During interpersonal interactions, Ms. Duarte was always pleasant. She was steadfast and firm in her views. However, one could engage robustly with her on the issues. On a party-to-party basis, she was always available to engage, which was welcome and appreciated.”

The Good Party’s secretary-general and MP Brett Herron also extended the party’s condolences to Duarte’s family.

“Duarte will be dearly missed and remembered for her contribution to the freedom of South Africa, with a life dedicated to the struggle against apartheid.

“She remained resolute in her continuous pursuit of a non-racial South Africa and was also committed in her fight for women empowerment in the country. An unwavering and resilient champion of the people of South Africa.”

Duarte was elected to the PEC of Gauteng in 1990 and served as MEC for Safety and Security in the first Gauteng government in 1994.

She was elected to the National Executive Council of the ANC in 1999 and she has remained a member of the NEC since.

The ANC said Duarte dedicated her entire life to the Struggle for a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, prosperous and just South Africa.

“A committed gender activist, she relentlessly championed the emancipation and empowerment of women.

“Her life and work reflected a consistent commitment to advancing the rights of the poor and marginalised.

“Comrade Yasmin Duarte (September 19, 1953 – 2022, July 17) is survived by her children, grandchildren, siblings and extended family.”

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