'Gangster State' author condemns Cape launch cancellation
Author Pieter-Louis Myburgh has condemned the V&A Waterfront for failing to 'defend free speech' when it cancelled the launch of his book Gangster State, about ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, over safety concerns. V&A spokesperson Donald Kau said the decision to cancel the launch had been made in consultation with the police.
'It was not a lightly made decision,' he said, and V&A management was aware of the negative reaction it had caused among supporters of freedom of speech. 'Our primary consideration was that we have businesses, staff and visitors around the precinct whose safety we need to consider,' he said.
The decision comes after violent disruptions at Myburgh's Sandton launch on Tuesday, when ANC Youth League members stormed the event.
Myburgh said in a WhatsApp: 'It appears V&A Waterfront has cancelled the launch of #GangsterState because its willingness to defend free speech is not quite in line with its appetite for profits from shoppers.'
The author said 'a small band of critics ... who can't express their views in a civil manner' had 'spooked the V&A Waterfront into submission'.
Publishers were bailed out at the 11th hour yesterday when CapeTalk agreed to host the all-ticket launch at its Green Point studios, a second TimesLIVE article notes. Tessa van Staden, CapeTalk programme manager, said: 'In the spirit of supporting members of the media, and freedom of speech, CapeTalk (and Primedia Broadcasting) decided to make one of our conference areas available.'
Myburgh received much support when he tweeted that the event was in danger of being cancelled. Anton Harber, professor of journalism at Wits University, said: 'Think again Exclusive Books. Your reputation will be irreparably damaged if you don't stand by the writers who are at the core of your business.'
Angela Quintal, Africa programme co-ordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said: 'When corporate SA abets fascism, which the V&A Waterfront and Exclusive Books appear to be doing here, you know it's an even slipperier slope! They must do the right thing and ensure the book launch goes ahead and that this time there is adequate security.'
The social justice activism group United Behind said it would hold a public launch and reading of Gangster State on Monday outside the Slave Lodge in the Cape Town city centre. It said it would send a delegation to Exclusive Books at the V&A Waterfront to hand over a memorandum supporting freedom of thought, expression and justice.
President Cyril Ramaphosa last night condemned the disruption of book launches and the threat by ANC Youth League leaders to burn Myburgh’s book. Magashule was also in the room. A Daily Maverick report says Ramaphosa joined the chorus of condemnation against those who – dressed in ANC T-shirts and led by those identified as local ANC leaders from, among other areas, the Free State – disrupted the launch of the book in Sandton on Tuesday night.
Also subject to his condemnations were ANC Youth League leaders from the Free State, who soon after the disruptions organised to burn the book at a local dump site. They were pulled back less than 24 hours after their WhatsApp invitation to the bonfire started doing the rounds, and the event was swiftly called off.
There’s also talk of pending disciplinary action.
In what the DM report says is a clear warning against corruption and unethical behaviour, Ramaphosa told his audience at the launch of the ANC’s political school: ‘The school is aimed at producing cadres who do not need to be compelled to do the right thing. Who put the movement and the country above their own personal interests. These need to be cadres who fully understand the fundamental values and principles of our movement.
Cadres who reject all forms of intolerance, all forms of degrading the values and the principles of our movement. These are cadres who, like all of us, in uncertain terms condemn the actions of those who tend to do things that are strange to our movement. Things such as disrupting the book launch in Johannesburg a few days ago and who called for books to be burnt.’
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