ENGAGE IN THE BATTLE OF IDEAS. DON’T BURN BOOKS
The African National Congress (ANC) expresses disgust at the disruption of the book-launch in Sandton yesterday, as well as the threats of book-burning and against the author and journalists. The freedom of expression is a principle we fought for, that many died for, and which is sacrosanct in our young democracy.
In democratic society, freedom of expression can only be guarantees when we protect the rights of those we disagree with. Since a young Pixley ka Isaka Seme wrote the Regeneration of Africa in 1906, the ANC leaders and members have been consistent in contesting backward ideas and in the forefront of championing progressive ideas.
We understand that the battle of ideas today takes place in an era of misinformation, bias and fake news. This does not change the teachings of ourancestors who engaged in the battle of ideas in even more difficult eras. Seme, Charlotte Maxeke, O.R Tambo, Steve Biko, Ray Alexander, Chris Hani, Nelson Mandela, Alex la Guma, John Dube, Yusuf Dadoo, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and many, many others did not threaten those who held different ideas from them.
Instead they fought backwardness through clear ideas, persuasion and by providing superior arguments. As ANC members we must protect the values and reputation of the ANC, by practicing political tolerance and defending the rights enshrined in the Constitution of the land. Those who claim to be doing this hooliganism in our name, if they are found to be our members, the ANC disciplinary code will kick in.
The ANC has since engaged with the ANC Youth League in the Free State, and they have now gone public to retract their statements and cancelled this disgusting book-burning event.