Youth League halts book burning after ANC says 'engage in battle of ideas'
The ANC Youth League in the Free State has cancelled its book-burning protest against Pieter-Louis Myburgh's expose Gangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule's Web of Capture.
Provincial spokesperson Sello Pietersen said the league would meet the ANC on Thursday to hold further discussions on the matter but confirmed that no book burning would take place.
"We are disciplined members of the ANC‚ when the ANC spoke we listened‚" he said.
This comes after the mother body expressed disgust at the disruption of a book launch in Sandton on Tuesday and threats to burn copies of the book which implicates ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule in corruption during his tenure as Free State premier.
"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 guaranteed when we protect the rights of those we disagree with‚" said ANC spokesperson Dakota Legoete.
Disruptive scenes unfolded at the launch of Myburgh's new book in Sandton on Tuesday and the Youth League in the Free State released a statement threatening to burn piles of the book.
However‚ the mother body has implored the young lions to rather engage in a "battle of ideas" instead of "threatening those who held different ideas from them" and labelled book burning as "backward".
"We understand that the battle of ideas today takes place in an era of misinformation‚ bias and fake news. This does not change the teachings of our ancestors who engaged in the battle of ideas in even more difficult eras.
"Instead they fought backwardness through clear ideas‚ persuasion and by providing superior arguments‚" Legoate said.
The party also called on other ANC members to protect the values and reputation of the ANC by practising political tolerance and defending the rights enshrined in the constitution.
"Those who claim to be doing this hooliganism in our name‚ if they are found to be our members‚ the ANC disciplinary code will kick in‚" Legoate added.
Parliamentary speaker Baleka Mbete also condemned the threats.
She called on law enforcement to send a strong and clear message that activities such as those perpetrated at the book launch had no place in a democratic society.
She described the disruption of the book launch as tragic.
"While protests are part of a robust and lively democracy such as ours‚ they must at all times be conducted within the bounds of legality.
"Those who are aggrieved by the contents of the book have recourse provided by our legislative instruments‚ instead of attacking the legitimate actions of the writers‚ publishers and book stores to bring matters that may well be uncomfortable to light‚" Mbete said.