Although ANC chairmen have long been key brokers in party succession battles, in 2017, they are pushing hard to ensure they themselves are elected to the party’s national leadership. ANC Free State chairman Ace Magashule has had a firm grip on his province for more than two decades but is now being challenged. He is part of what is called the premier league, a once powerful lobby group backing President Jacob Zuma. Magashule also became entangled in the Gupta family web — almost to the same extent as his president. The Free State premier is somewhat of a political chameleon and an operator. How else could one man remain in power for so long without adapting to the ever-changing political landscape? In his profile on the Free State government website, Magashule claims to have been mentored by South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani and ANC stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. He was a founding member of the Congress of South African Students in 1979 and participated in the fou...

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