The ANC Youth League in the Free State has buckled under pressure and has ditched plans to destroy copies of a new book that is critical of governing party's secretary general Ace Magashule.
This after Luthuli House and the youth body's national leaders ordered them not to burn a book by journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh titled Gangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule’s Web of Capture.
The launch of the book was disrupted in Sandton on Tuesday evening and this has sparked wide condemnation, including from the ANC.
Free State's league spokesperson Sello Pietersen confirmed that they would not go ahead with their action after internal discussions with national leaders.
"However, we will go ahead with condemnation and engaging the falsehoods which are presented in that particular book because we believe it is propaganda intended to undermine the integrity of the leadership of the ANC," Pietersen said in an interview.
ANCYL secretary-general Njabulo Nzuza said their Free State branch had agreed to discontinue with the planned action.
"The ANC fought for freedom of speech in South Africa and it cannot be that the ANCYL fights against (this right) even if we disagree with the book as it is," Nzuza said.
Nzuza emphasised that the league had not sanctioned the disruption of Tuesday’s book launch.
National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete and NCOP chairperson Thandi Modise meanwhile were the latest to speak out against the protest and planned burning, saying they condemned "in the strongest terms the repulsive acts of criminality and flagrant attack on the key principles of our constitutional democracy by threats to burn copies of ‘Gangster State’ book and the actual disruption of its launch".
"The damage wreaked by the book launch disruption and the open threats to burn the book is disturbing, even tragic, especially at this time when we are less than a month away from our sixth general election," they said.
They joined the likes of ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom, ANC Elections Head Fikile Mbalula, ANC NEC member Tony Yengeni and even Magashule himself in condemning the disruption.
Another book launch is scheduled to take place in Cape Town on Wednesday evening.