Corruption is more lethal than the coronavirus, says Jessie Duarte

ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte delivered an online lecture on Wednesday at the invitation of the ANCYL.
ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte delivered an online lecture on Wednesday at the invitation of the ANCYL.
Image: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Thulani Mbele

ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte has called on young people to expose corruption wherever it rears its head.

Duarte was delivering an online lecture on “people's power” on Wednesday at the invitation of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL).

She said corruption was perhaps “more lethal than the coronavirus” as it denied the poor access to basic services.

It was the duty of young people to be vigilant during this time of ramped-up government spending and to ensure than all funds were spent on what they are intended for, she said.

She cautioned, however, against the labelling of people as corrupt without facts or evidence.

Personally, she said, she did not know of anyone who was corrupt in the ANC, other than those who had been prosecuted on corruption-related charges.

“Corruption is a disease that is more lethal than coronavirus because it robs people of basic services. As the youth, you must speak out against it. We must never divert funds meant for service delivery to anything other than what they are intended for,” she said.

Duarte said it was a “sad reality” that the outbreak of Covid-19 had exposed inequalities in society, but more worrying was that some were cashing in for personal benefit at the expense of the people.

“Some of the money allocated does not go directly to the people but is first handled by a third party, an individual who becomes a middleman [for instance] between a water board and the people who must receive the money — and we cannot accept that,” she said.

“But we must be very clear: it does not help to falsely accuse people of being corrupt. Facts are all that matter — not innuendos, not connecting little dots everywhere.”

Duarte called on young people to build their own economies, suggesting for example that they start stokvels to save money and start their own businesses.

She said it was unfortunate that despite high unemployment among the youth, the country was still importing things that could be manufactured locally by young people in their own businesses.

Using clothing as an example, she advised the youth to start local clothing brands that could compete with the likes of luxury French brand Louis Vuitton.

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