Publisher withdraws Herman Mashaba biography

Jonathan Ball Publishers was not aware of a funding agreement between the ActionSA president and the writer of the ‘unauthorised biography’, Prince Mashele

Publisher withdraws Herman Mashaba biography
Herman Mashaba said 181 000 potholes have been repaired, 520 kilometres of road have been resurfaced, 120 traffic lights have been recabled and 37 kilometres of water pipes have been refurbished. Gallo

Jonathan Ball Publishers announced on Monday evening that it had withdrawn The Outsider from the market, after the disclosure that businessman and politician Herman Mashaba had funded the “unauthorised biography”. 

The book was written by political commentator and author Prince Mashele, who was paid over R12 million for his efforts.

“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 today, Jonathan Ball Publishers is left with no option but to withdraw The Outsider from the market,” the publisher said in a statement.

It said it was unaware of any funding agreement between Mashele and Mashaba when it signed the publishing agreement with Mashele in 2022.

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

Earlier on Monday, Michael Beaumont, the national chairperson of Mashaba’s political party ActionSA, said via a statement that the book was initiated two years prior to ActionSA being launched, while Mashaba was still Johannesburg mayor.

“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 R12.5 million in his personal capacity.

“A contract was signed in March 2019 which provided explicit editorial control of content to the author, Mashele. Mashaba was to provide access for interviews and was availed with manuscripts from time to time to comment on factual accuracy. 

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

He said the party stood behind the “ethical integrity” of its president Mashaba, “which remains unimpeached”.

In the statement, Beaumont also quoted from the signed contract: “While the Subject [Mashaba] shall be entitled to make suggestions regarding the inclusion of certain important events, facts or such other details, the Author shall be the ultimate owner of the contents of the Biography.”

Beaumont said that Mashaba “had no prior sight of the cover of the book and specifically the sub-heading ‘An unauthorised biography of Herman Mashaba’. This was agreed between Mashele and the publishers”.

Jonathan Ball said in its statement, however: “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.”

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