Tony Leon Biography
Tony Leon whose full name is Anthony James “Tony” Leon was born on 15th December 1956 in Durban, Natal Province, Union of South Africa. He is a South African politician who served as leader of the opposition from 1999-2007 as leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA).
Tony Leon Education Background
He attended Clifton Preparatory School and Kearsney College near Durban.
Tony Leon Political Career
In 1974 at the age of 18 he became an organiser for the Progressive Party, one of the two opposition parties represented in parliament at the time. After this, he qualified as an attorney at the University of the Witwatersrand, where he was President of the Law Students’ Council and Vice-President of the Students’ Representative Council, and became a lecturer in the Law Department in 1986.
In the same year he was elected to the Johannesburg City Council for Yeoville.He became leader of the opposition in the city council.
In 1989 he was elected to Parliament for the Houghton constituency, representing the Progressive Party’s successor, the Democratic Party.
In 1994 during the general election he was elected to Parliament in the first democratic National Assembly, as well as leader of the Democratic Party.
In 1998, Leon published his first book on the eve of the second democratic election, entitled ‘Hope & Fear: Reflections of a Democrat’ (Jonathan Ball, 1998). With the second democratic elections in 1999 and the New National Party only retaining 28 seats (down from 82 in 1994), he became Leader of the Opposition as the DP took 38 seats, showing a growth of over five-fold.
Since 2012, Leon has been serving as Executive Chairman of Resolve Communications (Pty) Ltd – a South African-based advocacy for reputation management and strategic communications consultancy, and a Senior Advisor to K2 Intelligence, a London-NY based international investigative and risk analytics consultancy founded by Jules and Jeremy Kroll in 2009.
Tony Leon Retirement
On 26 November 2006, Leon announced that he would step down from the leadership of the DA in 2007, and would not accept nomination for the leadership of the party at the party’s congress in May 2007. Leon, nevertheless, kept his seat in Parliament until 2009, when its term expired.
Leon retired as leader of the DA on 5 May 2007. He was succeeded by Helen Zille who was elected as the new party leader on 6 May 2007.
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Tony Leon as a South African Ambassador
In August 2009 he was appointed as Ambassador to Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.
Tony Leon Publication
In 2008 he released his autobiography ‘On the Contrary’. The book was also serialized by the Johannesburg Sunday Times. The book won the Recht Malan Prize in the Via Afrika Book Awards for the best work of non fiction in 2009.
He published a series of articles in Business Day from the campaign trail of the recent South African general election, 2009.
‘Where in the World is South Africa?’, which was subsequently published in the South African journal of International Affairs, 2013, Vol.20,No.3,447-457.
‘The Accidental Ambassador: From Parliament to Patagonia’ (Pan McMillan, 2013).
‘Opposite Mandela: Encounters with South Africa’s Icon’ which was published in May 2014
After Leon completed his over 20 years as an MP, he was invited to write two weekly columns in leading South African Sunday paper “Sunday Times” and in leading daily paper “Business Day”, winning excellent reviews for his writing and analysis even from previous political opponents.
Since 2012, Tony Leon has been a contracted columnist to Times Media Group Ltd, with his columns appearing weekly or monthly in Business Day, Sunday Times, and the Times respectively.
Tony Leon Family
In 2000, Leon married Michal (formerly Even-Zahav) from Israel, the mother of his two stepchildren, Noa and Etai Even-Zahav.