Johannesburg – ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte has delivered a stinging rebuke of the governing party, describing it as “tribalistic and racist” for marginalising members and voters who are not black Africans.
In a hard-hitting address to ANC members at the Naledi Community Hall in Soweto this week during the Albertina Sisulu Memorial Lecture, Duarte said her comrades might not like what she told them but the party was “tribally chauvinistic”.
“We have almost become tribalists in the way we present ourselves. We are racist in the ANC because we marginalise people who are not black African people; keep them out of the ANC at all costs. (And) put one or two there as tokens so that we can say mara ja, you know, there is uJessie apha (here) representing,” she said.
Duarte continued: “We won’t accept the fact that non-racialism is a core value of the ANC. We don’t want to accept that, we even go as far as creating myths. I don’t like the term coloured people, I never refer to myself as a coloured, ever in my life and I never will.”
She said some ANC members say so-called coloured people benefited from apartheid.
“Then I ask those who say that: ‘Have they ever been to Westbury? I doubt. Have they ever been to Riverlea Extension or Newclare? I would very much doubt that’,” said Duarte, adding that ANC members had the habit of speaking without knowledge and the benefit of real information.
According to Duarte, ANC members often asked who marginalised “coloured” people under apartheid and that they do not need anything from the democratic state.
“So today what you have is a national group of people in this country who don’t vote ANC, they just don’t vote, they stay at home. They don’t see the ANC as their home and yet in the 1980s and even some time before the 1980s we all worked together,” Duarte said.
She added that in the 1980s, activists from Soweto would visit her hometown of Riverlea to conduct door-to-door campaigns and Duarte and her comrades would also do the same in the country’s biggest township.
She warned that the ANC must realise that “unity” was not just a slogan.
“Unless we are prepared to unite the nation, as the ANC we will not see our future in a 100 years’ time,” Duarte said.
She said she was appalled by and uncomfortable about what was going on in ANC WhatsApp groups, where young people talk about amak*** and amab****** (racial slurs for Indian and coloured people).
Duarte was also scathing on women in the ANC for not living up to the mantra of non-sexism as MaSisulu taught female activists during that Struggle: “No woman is lesser than a man, we are equal in this country.”
“But we must also be equal in real terms, not only because the constitution of the ANC says so. But what do we do (as) abafazi (women)? The first thing that women do is to elect men to lead, but when we put a woman’s name, we will gossip about that woman until that woman is finished. Women have not accepted that we are equal to men,” she told the gathering.
This story first appeared in the Politics Bureau