Duarte passed away in the early hours of Sunday morning, the ruling party confirmed in a statement.
THE ANC has confirmed that its deputy secretary-general, Yasmin “Jessie” Duarte has died at the age of 68.
Duarte was undergoing treatment for cancer, and was on medical leave since November 21.
“The ANC expresses its heartfelt condolences to the Duarte, Dangor and Whitely extended families, loved ones and friends”.
In its official statement, the ruling party said Duarte was both a tower of strength to the organisation as well as a matriarch and pillar of her community.
The party said that Duarte’s passing was a great loss not only for her family, but also the democratic movement that she dedicated her life to and South Africa as a whole.
“As a committed internationalist and former diplomat, not only will she be mourned by South Africa, but by colleagues and comrades on the African continent and the international progressive movement”.
The ANC said she dedicated her entire life to the struggle of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, prosperous and just South Africa.
In April, Duarte spoke out against rumours that she had died, saying it was unfortunate that whoever spread those rumours would wish her dead.
Duarte was reacting after rumours were rife on social media that she had died of cancer.
Duarte was the longest serving member of the ruling party’s national executive council (NEC), having been elected in 1999 under former president Thabo Mbeki’s administration.
She will be buried in Johannesburg this afternoon according to Muslim rites.