The ANC's Secretary General Ace Magashule addresses the media. File photo: EPA-EFE/KIM LUDBROOK.

CAPE TOWN - The DA on Monday said the ruling ANC's summary rejection of Gangster State, a new book with allegations of systematic state corruption in the Free State under Ace Magashule, made a mockery of President Cyril Ramaphosa's promise of a political "new dawn".

"It is clear that the ANC and Ramaphosa have closed ranks in defence of Magashule," DA spokesman Solly Malatsi said.

"This is a man who is unashamedly guilty of plundering the Free State and instead of holding him to account - the ANC has decided to vilify the very press who exposed his dirty dealings by branding these allegations as 'fake news'. The very fact that a governing party can have the audacity to tell the free press to keep their “hands off” its Secretary-General, is undemocratic and unconstitutional in nature."

The book, written by Pieter-Louis Myburgh, was published on Sunday. 

It sketches a damning account of corruption under Magashule's premiership of the Free State and alleges that he pocketed R230 million in kickbacks on an asbestos deal.

The ruling party responded by defending Magashule, who is the ANC secretary-general, and calling the book fake news reminiscent of Stratcom tactics, a reference to a group within the apartheid government specifically tasked with carrying out disinformation campaigns.

"How on earth does someone who is one of the most well-known liberation fighters and public figures in South Africa, and whose career spans over decades, even begin to do that when every one of his well-known steps have been open to public scrutiny? Clearly this is ever so much nonsense," the ANC said in a statement.

Malatsi said this response showed that there was "no end to Magashule’s corruption and his power within the ANC". 

"Nothing has changed in the ANC. The ANC of Ramaphosa is the very same ANC of (former president Jacob) Zuma. South Africans are seeing the ANC return to its old ways. The New Dawn is practicing old tricks," he said.

The ANC was due to hold a special meeting of its National Executive Committee (NEC) on Monday, with the allegations against Magashule expected to form part of the agenda.

Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom tweeted late on Sunday that he did not believe the collective would simply reject the contents of the book.

"This has not been discussed at the NEC. I am not prepared to simply dismiss all the allegations as lies. Nor would most of my NEC comrades," he wrote.

African News Agency (ANA)