The Free State ANC Youth League is allegedly stuck with a “garage full” of copies of Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s book, Gangster State … as well as apartheid-era flags, after an intervention by Luthuli House poured cold water on their plans to burn the items.
This comes after a group of ANC protesters forced Exclusive Books in Sandton City Mall to close its doors when they disrupted the well-attended launch on Tuesday night.
The book has been controversial, as it exposes the alleged shady activities of the ANC secretary-general, Ace Magashule.
The protesters disrupted proceedings by singing loudly, displaying “Stratcom State” posters, and tearing pages out of books.
Exclusive Books CEO Grattan Kirk described the incident as “well planned” and “organised”.
The disruption was followed by an announcement that the organisation’s Youth League in Magashule’s home province planned to have a mass burning of copies on Monday.
The ANC, however, sent out a statement condemning the disruptions, saying the perpetrators did not act in the name of the party or the secretary-general.
“We view the actions of these individuals in a very serious light, as it undermines freedom of speech. Our constitutional democracy joins us to defend every citizen’s right to freedom of speech, irrespective of whether we agree with the contents or not. The ANC appeals to all its structures to observe and adhere to the letter and spirit of our constitution.”
Magashule also sent out a statement, saying: “Those purporting to be ANC members and supporters 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.”
Free State ANCYL spokesperson Sello Pieterson said they managed to collect a “garage full” of the controversial books and old South African flags which were given to them by “society at large”.
He said the books were collected after they made a call to the community.
He did not know where the donors had got the books from and could not confirm whether they had been bought for the sole purpose of burning them.
“For now, we will not be burning the books because the national wing has spoken and we cannot question them.”
He was not sure what would happen to their “garage full of books”.
“We will have a meeting [today] with the provincial ANC to discuss a way forward about what will happen with the books but our views still stands that those books will not return to the shelves.
“I have read the book, unfortunately, and it was garbage and a serious waste of my time,” said Pieterson.
Kirk confirmed the book was still on the shelves at Exclusive Books stores and continued to sell well.
Political analyst Andre Duvenage said the incident was a manifestation of internal conflict within the party structures.
Although one could not make a direct link to Magashule being behind the protests, “the perpetrators were clearly operating in his interests”, he said.
This was because the book was not an ordinary book and contained a lot of strong evidence against him.
Duvenage said the book was creating momentum against Magashule which was going against what he had been focusing on: mobilising support ahead of the upcoming elections.
“This is probably the biggest crisis of his career, if the stuff mentioned [in the book] are taken seriously,” said Duvenage.
“Magashule will be in a lot of trouble. It will be the end for his career. But if you read the book you will see he has survived similar things in the past.
“I would like to see what happens in Bloemfontein because that is where Magashule has momentum. Historically the ANC Youth League does not always obey the parent branch, the ANC. If they decide to burn the books, it will be a clear disobedience to the party,” said Duvenage.