Pieter-Louis Myburgh's book Gangster State was released recently. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Author and journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh, who implicated ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule in alleged systematic state corruption in the Free State, has accused him of influencing media coverage while he was premier.

Myburgh, whose book, Gangster State, was published recently, addressed a question and answer session at the Cape Town Press Club yesterday.

He said Magashule made sure some media houses which reported on his corruption dealings were shut down.

“In the Free State, the media environment was deliberately taken over by Magashule to ensure there weren’t any negative reporting about him. This was more in the English medium publications,” he said.

“There were media houses who did well because they did not feed into the political discourse they are publishing. There were two publications, Free State Times and the Weekly, the Times was a critical voice of Magashule’s government. They got to the core of some of his corrupt dealings.”

He explained the two media houses exposed government contracts and deals implicating Magashule in 2011.

“Magashule, what he did was to centralise the province’s entire media budget. He (would) capture the budgets and bring them into the office of the premier and close the budget resulting in the newspaper dying a very slow death,” said Myburgh.

He further claimed the private sector was also reeled in and told not to advertise with publications which reported on Magashule’s dealings.

“They stopped advertising with these papers. Private companies were getting phone calls from Magashule’s associates in government saying that they should not advertise in these newspapers and these corporates did business with the government. They had concerns about their business,” he said.

The book has been met with outrage by the ruling party. On Tuesday, Exclusive Books in Sandton City, Joburg, had to cancel the launch after a group of people, some wearing ANC T-shirts, stormed the venue. Police were called while the author fled, fearing for his life.

Meanwhile, the ANC Youth League has vowed to burn more copies.

The ANC has declined to comment on the allegations, saying Magashule was pursuing a legal matter in his personal capacity.

Meanwhile, speaking through his spokesperson Mbali Hlophe, Magashule yesterday said the allegations were false, saying “it takes a mere google search to know that the media has always been critical of him”.

In Myburgh’s book, the ANC’s Top Six are also alleged to have pocketed R230 million in kickbacks on an asbestos deal.

Political Bureau