WRAP: The burning issue - Who said what about Magashule book debacle

2019-04-10 14:07

Political parties, as well as organisations and individuals, on Wednesday reacted to the disruption of the launch of a damning book about ANC secretary general Ace Magashule, as well as threats to burn copies of the book. 

A group of protesters disrupted the launch of Pieter-Louis Myburgh's book, Gangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule's Web of Capture, in Sandton on Tuesday evening. 

In videos that publisher Penguin Books SA posted on social media, the group can be seen dancing and singing as mall security guards, clad in orange vests, surround them.

The group ripped apart copies of the book and the store manager was accosted and pushed around.

Earlier on Tuesday, the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) in the Free State said it was planning to burn piles of the book.


The Young Lions in Magashule's home province have labelled Myburgh's book, which was released last week, "puke".

The ANCYL said it planned to burn copies of the book at Mangaung's dumping site on Monday, according to ANCYL Free State spokesperson Sello Pietersen.

On Wednesday, following the book launch, reaction poured in from all quarters. This is who said what:

The ANC

The governing party on Tuesday distanced itself from the disruption of the launch, as well as plans to burn copies of the book.

ANC acting national spokesperson Dakota Legoete emphasised that those who disrupted the launch had not done so in the name of the party.

"We need to condemn that because people cannot oppose freedom of expression, whether it's through a book or something. We condemn it in the strongest possible terms because it undermines freedom of expression including the freedom of the media to write whatever they like," he told News24.

In a statement on Wednesday, the ANC, expressed "disgust at the disruption of the book launch... as well as the threats of book burning and against the author and journalists".

"The freedom of expression is a principle we fought for, that many died for, and which is sacrosanct in our young democracy. In democratic society, freedom of expression can only be guarantees when we protect the rights of those we disagree with," Legoete said. 

Party members who participated would be dealt with, Legoete promised. 

Ace Magashule

On Wednesday, Magashule said the incidents were "not in my name" and called on South Africans to adhere to the core values of the movement, "of engaging in the battle of ideas".

Magashule said: "The Constitution and laws of the country allow for channels to follow when we disagree with information and ideas, whether in books or the media. I have indicated to my organisation that I am pursuing legal action against the false allegations made in the book.

"In addition, where we disagree with views expressed in books, the media and other platforms, we must use peaceful and constitutional means to engage those who peddle lies and fake news.

"Those purporting to be ANC members and supporter disrupting book launches, burn books and intimidate authors and journalists in my name or to be revolutionary should desist, because these are actions of political intolerance, and against freedom of expression for all South Africans," Magashule said.

The DA

The DA in the Free State said it would lay criminal charges against two ANC ward councillors who participated in the disruption of the book launch.

"This thuggish act is a direct contravention of the Municipal System Act that regulates the conduct of the councillors. According to the Act, councillors are expected to perform their duties in good faith (or with a desire to act fairly towards others), honestly, transparently and in the best interests of the municipality," spokesperson and premier candidate Patricia Kopane said. 

"The DA will also be writing to the Metsimaholo Speaker, Thabo Mabasa, to lodge a complaint about their thuggish act and ask him to take action against them for bringing the council into disrepute.

"Their behaviour is a clear indication of how far the ANC is willing to go in silencing the truth, they are desperately trying to hide the unmasking of the alleged state captor Ace Magashule, who brought the Free State to its knees," Kopane said. 

SA Editors' Forum

The South African Editors' Forum (Sanef) said it strongly condemned the "violent disruption" of the launch.

"Such blatant suppression of freedom of speech has no place in our democracy and we welcome the condemnation issued by the ANC."

According to Sanef, the protesters wore T-shirts displaying the logos of the ANC and Sanco, and destroyed copies of Myburgh's book.


Sanef called on the ANC and Sanco to identify and discipline the protesters.

There can never be an excuse to intimidate an author for exercising his right to freedom of expression, Sanef said. 

"Sanef encourages the protesters to make use of democratic institutions like the media, the courts or regulatory bodies to air their grievances with Myburgh about his book."

Penguin Books SA

The publisher of Gangster State, Penguin Random House, said it would not be silenced following disruptions at the book launch. 

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Penguin Books SA said it "is appalled at the behaviour of those who disrupted the launch".

"We are equally concerned that members of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) have threatened to convene a mass book-burning in Bloemfontein."

"These scenes are more reminiscent of Nazi-era Germany than the free society envisaged in our hard-won Constitution. In a democratic South Africa, everybody is free to disagree with a book. But nobody should be free to destroy property and intimidate people," Penguin Books SA said.  

"We welcome the ANC's statement condemning those who undermine citizens' freedom to speak, write and publish. We specifically call on the leadership of the ANC, under President Cyril Ramaphosa, to personally ensure that there will be no further disruptions or violence at Gangster State events in the coming days and weeks."

The publisher thanked all those engaging critically with the book, and encouraged "all peace-loving citizens and members of the media to attend future Gangster State events to take the discussion further".

"The next book launch will be... [on] Thursday 11 April at 18:00 for 18:30 at Exclusive Books V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, and will be moderated by [News24 editor-in-chief] Adriaan Basson.

"We hope that Ace Magashule and his supporters get the message that no amount of intimidation will deter us.

"Whether it is threats to go to court, the disruption of book launches or the burning of books, we will not be silenced."

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Read more on:    anc  |  sanef  |  ace maga­shule  |  protests  |  politics
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