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Controversial ANC Free State chairman Ace Magashule has risen to the position of national secretary-general in the party following the outcome of the 54th national elective conference. Magashule took the post by a whisker, winning 2,360 votes against Senzo Mchunu's 2,336. Magashule is a seasoned politician who has been active since the late 1970s, and has had a firm grip on his province for the past 25 years. A blight on his recent career has been his and his family’s involvement with the controversial Gupta family — he is potentially among the most implicated senior ANC leaders in allegations of state capture, second to President Jacob Zuma.

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