Jonathan Ball Publishers pull the plug on controversial Herman Mashaba book

Action SA president Herman Mashaba. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Action SA president Herman Mashaba. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 22, 2023


Jonathan Ball Publishers has announced it is pulling the plug on ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba's unauthorised biography, ‘The Outsider’, which was authored by political analyst Prince Mashele.

The publishers said they were pulling out of the deal and withdrawing the book from the market after it was revealed that Mashaba paid Mashele more than R12 million to fund the book.

The publishers said they were not aware of the arrangement.

"Following the disclosure that Herman Mashaba had funded the writing of a biography about him by Prince Mashele, as confirmed by Mashaba in a media release, Jonathan Ball Publishers is left with no option but to withdraw ‘The Outsider’ from the market,” the publishing house said on Monday.

It said it was unaware of any funding agreement between Mashele and Mashaba when it signed a publishing agreement with Mashele last year.

"We view this as a material non-disclosure on the part of the author and as a breach of trust.

“We also want to note that the contract Mashaba quotes from in his statement is from 2019 and is not the contract that was signed between Mashele and Jonathan Ball Publishers," the publisher said.

Earlier on Monday, Mashaba had rushed to quell fires about his “unauthorised” biography following questions around who paid for it and how much he knew about the book.

Mashaba said the book was not an ActionSA project and was initiated two years before the party was launched, while he was still the mayor of Joburg.

“The project involved a three-year in-depth research exercise into Mashaba’s life. A plan to finance the book was presented by Mashele to Mashaba in October 2018, but when it became clear that raising the funds would be challenging, Mashaba agreed to provide the initial finance of R12.5m in his personal capacity,” ActionSA's Michael Beaumont said.

Mashaba was forthcoming about his role in reviewing the manuscript for accuracy at the recent launch of the book,” ActionSA said.