From the disruption of the book launch to planned bonfires using the newly released book as kindle, it would seem that Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s Gangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule has caused a stir among the ANC secretary-general’s faithfuls.
The launch of the damning new book, which bares information on Magashule’s handling of money and government affairs, especially during his tenure as Free State premier, went pear-shaped following a disruption of the event at Exclusive Books in Sandton on Tuesday evening.
While the disruption seemed to be carried out by ANC members who claimed it contained false information about Magashule, other ANC members including the party’s chief whip, Jackson Mthembu, took to Twitter on Wednesday morning and condemned the disruption.
“I will be mobilising ANC (NWC) to urgently bring those involved in the disruption of the Gangster State’s book launch before a disciplinary committee. Those thugs have brought the ANC name into disrepute. They have trashed our hard worn democracy,” read one of his tweets.
Mthembu, however, was chief among those calling on ANC supporters to stop buying the City Press newspaper in 2012, following the publication of a satirical painting of then president Jacob Zuma titled The Spear, which depicted Zuma’s genitals.
On Wednesday, the ANC’s head of elections, Fikile Mbalula, seemed to echo Mthembu’s sentiment as he simply responded: “Indeed.”
“The ANC condemns the disruption of the book launch of the Gangster State on Tuesday,” read a statement from the ruling party as it distanced itself from the chaos.
READ: Ace Magashule’s dodgy dealings exposed
“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.”
Speaking to City Press, Myburgh said that the disruption of the launch was a way of “hindering our democratic right to have a public discussion on issues tackled in the book.”
“The group from last night were from the Free State and appeared to be Magashule supporters. The disruption was a way of making sure that we could not engage on the content of the book as it gives new, damning information on Magashule’s handling of money and government affairs, especially when he was premier of the Free State,” he said.
Security tries to keep things calm following disruptions by a crowd at the launch of Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s latest book in Sandton on Tuesday Picture: Maya Fisher-French
Financial writer Maya Fisher-French, who attended the book launch, told City Press that the smallest confrontation could have easily led to a more violent reaction.
“As Myburgh was about to be introduced, a crowd began talking loudly and subsequently started chanting the words: ‘What has Ace done?’ and ‘We don’t like hooligans’,” she said.
“We thought it would die down but they kept getting louder. The crowd then began grabbing copies of the book, tearing pages out of the books and threw the books and torn out pages at the attendees.”
Fisher-French added that a sense of worry filled the room as attendees became uneasy.
“There was a feeling among those attending that security should have been more forceful and remove them, but I think staying calm and just forming a barrier to keep them contained was the best strategy,” she said.
“One of the people attending told me he wasn’t planning on buying the book but now he did, as a form of protest,” she added.
READ: Book extract: The day Ace Magashule took the mayor to Gangster Land
ANC acting national spokesperson Dakota Legoete said: “The ANC expresses disgust at the disruption of the book launch in Sandton, as well as the threats of book burning.
“The freedom of expression is a principle we fought for, that many died for, and which is sacrosanct in our young democracy,” he added.
Following speculation and questions around the timing of the book’s release – with elections looming – and the disruption of the book launch, many called it a marketing ploy.
But Myburgh said that both the question and accusation were absurd.
Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s launch last night in Sandton. Picture: Maya Fisher French
“Why would the book be released after elections? Why would we delay releasing what is in the public interest until after elections only to help save face for Ace Magashule?” he asked.
“The notion that this was a marketing ploy is not true. The launch was disrupted by ANC members because that book carries more information about how the lives of poor people and businesses were impacted.”
Myburgh added: “If the ANC want to embarrass themselves by continuing in such acts then so be it. From our side, all events we have planned regarding the book will continue and there will be continued interest in the book.”
Calls to burn the book – made by the ANC Youth League in the Free State – have also come under fire from the ANC as it said: “The ANC condemns the call to burn books in the strongest possible terms.”
The youth league in the province announced their plan to burn piles of the book at the Mangaung South Side dumping site on April 15.
However, according to Legoete this was not to be.
“The ANC has engaged with the ANC Youth League in the Free State, and they have now gone public to retract their statements and cancelled this disgusting book-burning event,” he said.