Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Monday, May 07, 2007

Zille's In
As widely expected, Helen Zille was voted in as leader of the DA, replacing a politically ageing but tireless servant in Tony Leon. Zille dominated the vote, and has since made all the right noises about seeking the black vote and providing real alternatives in policy.

As for Leon, one can say that he led with DA with an unrivalled passion and committment, and he will be remembered as a politician that fought for the defence of democracy with every breath. For this, South Africa should thank him.

With a combative style not always suited to the more subtle rigours of South African politics, he was perhaps too often painted into a racist picture. This tainted his legacy of success as opposition leader, and where he oft needed to work with the ruling party to influence and achieve change, he was too easily dismissed as prejudiced when his voice needed most to be heard. Personally, my most common criticism of Leon was his lack of achievable policy alternatives to back up his oft vitriolic criticism of Governmental policies.

He remains though, one of the most notable and influential polticians of our time, and South Africa owes him a debt for speaking up when the fair winds of democratic complacency or the harsher winds of one party dominance blew. I wish him well in his well-earned retirement.