ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte dead at 68

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Jessie Yasmin Duarte, the deputy secretary general of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress has died aged 68.

The ANC said Duarte died in the early hours of Sunday morning after a months-long battle with cancer.

She had been on medical leave since November last year.

She will be buried at Westpark Cemetery in Johannesburg on Sunday afternoon in accordance with Muslim rites.

“She was both a tower of strength to the organisation as well as a matriarch and pillar of her family,” ANC spokesman Pule Mabe said.

“The passing of Comrade Jessie is a great loss, not only to the family but to the democratic movement and the country as a whole. She 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.”

Duarte was born on September 19, 1953.  The long-time anti-apartheid activist served as a special assistant to the late former president Nelson Mandela and was also a member of the Gauteng provincial government as MEC for Safety and Security in 1994.

Duarte also served as the country’s ambassador to Mozambique. Before assuming the post of ANC deputy secretary-general in 2012, she was serving as ANC spokesperson.

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