Leon urges government and DA to be ‘civilised’

FORMER Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Tony Leon has called for disagreements and engagements between the ruling ANC and his former party to be more civilised.

This comes as scenes were shown recently of faeces and sewage being thrown at Western Cape premier Helen Zille’s convoy, allegedly by ANC Youth League members.

Leon said relations with the ruling party seemed to be at its lowest compared to the time when he was party leader.

“It seems to be worse than at any time. People spoke about the cold war between Thabo Mbeki and me but we certainly didn’t throw excrement at one another,” said Leon.

“A lot of people said when Helen Zille took over from me that there would be a much kinder, gentler relationship between government and opposition. It seems to be more confrontational than it’s ever been,” he said, adding that he did not blame either side for the state of relations.

“Maybe it’s in the nature of things; maybe it’s what happens in a democracy.”

Leon was speaking on the sidelines of the Daily Dispatch Dialogues hosted by the newspaper and the University of Fort Hare at the Guild Theatre on Monday night.

Leon, who recently published a book, The Accidental Ambassador, shared the stage with entrepreneur Herman Mashaba, founder of the company Black Like Me.

The former opposition leader also took a swipe at his party’s campaign Know Your DA which highlights the involvement of the party leaders in the struggle to liberate the country.

“I think you have to live in the future and not in the past and if you get into a contest about what happened in South Africa 20 years ago … I think your plans for the future are much more important than what you did in the past,” he said.

“We all did things in the past; there are people in the ANC who collaborated with the apartheid regime. I could name some. There are people in the DA who were heroic and there are people in the DA who were completely unheroic.”

Mashaba, who is also chairman of the Free Market Foundation, highlighted his concern at the direction the country was taking with the number of new labour law regulations.

“It is quite disturbing … the motor industry used to be the biggest employer in the Eastern Cape – if you look at it today who is the biggest employer? It’s government. I think for me as a South African, as a human being, it’s actually an indictment of our failure as society,” he said.

Leon was South Africa’s ambassador to Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. He said South Africa had a lot to learn from South America and how North America overtook the south despite its wealth in earlier years.


Back from his post as Ambassador to Argentina, former DA leader Tony Leon provided insight into an exploding market opportunity in South America and explained how it came to be that the biggest contract he secured for SA while ambassador was for the Eastern Cape.  He was joined by Herman Mashaba, entrepreneur extraordinaire and chairman of the Free Market Foundation.






  1. For once i have to agree with Tony Leon when he states that the know your DA campaign is retrospective. However, i though that he would have stated that the campaign is also misleading, not well researched and a distortion of our struggle history. So-called struggle icons who faced the Nats in parliamment as a lone crusader, do have their merits. Unfortunately those merits became low when compared to the real heroes who defied death on a daily basis without the monetary and financial gains of people who served in apartheid structures. In my view, such newborn struggle icons are hollow and deceitful.

  2. Patrick. You forget that to defy the Nats, was to risk death for any South African.

    You have a distorted view of history if you think the struggles in the townships were more dangerous than the struggles behind the scenes in the houses of parliament. Anybody white or black who went against the status quo of the time faced severe action.

    The DP leaders at the time weren’t running around throwing stones at Police vehicles, yes. But dont for one second believe they weren’t in danger, threatened and intimidated.

    Many people selflessly harbored the ANC. Gave aid to the ANC and are now shunned and forgotten as people like you rewrite history to glorify a few and exclude so many.


  3. this is an example of a good leader, we still need people like this, who knows what is best for our country, Thanks Tony for your contribution, may the good lord bless you.