ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule. PICTURE: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAY TIMES
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule. PICTURE: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAY TIMES

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has called on those threatening to burn copies of a book detailing damning allegations about his reign in the Free State to “desist” from doing so. 

This followed the disruption of the book launch of investigative journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s Magushule exposé, Gangster State, in Sandton on Tuesday evening. The ANC has distanced itself from the chaos at event.  

In statement on Wednesday morning, Magashule, the former Free State premier, called on all South Africans to adhere to the core values of the ANC.

Magashule said the constitution and laws of SA allowed for channels to follow when “’we disagree with information and ideas, whether in books or the media”. 

He said he had indicated to the ANC that he would pursue legal action after the “false allegations made in the book”.

He said when people 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.”

Myburgh used leaked documents and e-mails among others to back up his claims in the book.

“Those purporting to be ANC members and supporters disrupting book launches, burning books and intimidating 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.

On Tuesday night, Myburgh was set to discuss the book with City Press editor Mondli Makhanya at the launch. 

A group of protesters supporting Magashule disrupted the launch, chanting Magashule’s name, singing songs, drinking wine and tearing up a copy of the book.

Some of the protesters were clad in ANC T-shirts and also brandished posters saying “Hands off our SG” and “Stratcom State”, a reference to the book’s title.

Acting party spokesperson Dakota Legoete said on Tuesday evening that the party condemned the disruption and the call to burn books in “the strongest possible terms”.

“We wish to emphasise that those who disrupted the launch did not do so in the name of the ANC nor on behalf of the ANC secretary-general,” Legoete said.

He said the ANC viewed the actions of these individuals “in a very serious light as it undermines freedom of speech”.

“Our constitutional democracy enjoins us to defend every citizen’s right to freedom of speech irrespective of whether we agree with the contents or not,” Legoete said.

The ANC further appealed to all its structures to observe and adhere to the letter and spirit of the constitution.

Meanwhile, ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu took to Twitter to say that he would mobilise the ANC’s national working committee to bring those involved in Tuesday’s disruption before a disciplinary committee.

“Those thugs have brought the ANC name into disrepute.  They have trashed our hard won democracy,” he said.