Tony Leon

  • Fall 2007

Tony Leon has been a Member of Parliament in South Africa since 1989. For thirteen years he led the Democratic Alliance and Democratic Party, South Africa's largest opposition movement, and for seven years he was leader of the Official Opposition in Parliament. He is a Vice-President of Liberal International, and has addressed international organizations and groupings of significant reach including the Council on Foreign Relations (Washington), the Royal Institute of International Affairs (London) and the Institute for Strategic Studies (London).

Leon was one of the key negotiators of South Africa's Constitution, both at Kempton Park between the years 1992-1993 and again in the Constitutional Assembly of Parliament after the 1994 election where he served as Chairman of the Theme Committee on Human Rights.

Leon has been described as "The best orator in Parliament," while analyst Xolela Mangcu described him, as "probably the greatest political strategist of our time." Nelson Mandela described Tony Leon as "A leader whose dynamism and capacity for analysis keeps everyone on their toes." While President Thabo Mbeki in paying tribute to his leadership said of him, "I am certain we will miss his lively engagements as a party leader in the public debate…he has the bark of a bull terrier."

Leon is internationally published, having written for TIME magazine, The Spectator¸ and The Daily Telegraph. He has written the book "Hope & Fear: Reflections of a Democrat" (Jonathan Ball Publishers, 1998) and is currently working on a political memoir. Leon also has a number of academic publications to his credit, written during his tenure as a member of the Law Faculty of the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

An attorney by profession, Leon's twenty years in public life in South Africa has allowed him to be an inside participant in a period of profound change and national renewal.