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Tony Leon

In April 2013, Tony Leon published a best selling new memoir, "The Accidental Ambassador, From Parliament to Patagonia". Business Day described it as " a page turner, which never leaves you bored", while the Cape Times said in its review " it is very insightful... And very funny." The book lifts the Iid on diplomatic life and offers some compelling views on both his home country, South Africa, and his host countries in South America from which he had recently returned.

In September 2009, President Jacob Zuma appointed Anthony (“Tony”) Leon, South African Ambassador to Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. He assumed leadership, for three years, of the Embassy in Buenos Aires.

For nearly 20 years Tony Leon was a Member of Parliament in South Africa, and for thirteen years he led the Democratic Alliance. He is the longest serving Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, since the advent of democracy in April 1994. He led and grew his party from its marginal position on the brink of political extinction into the second largest political force in South Africa. President Nelson Mandela described him as “a leader whose dynamism and analysis keeps everyone on their toes”.

A trained lawyer, Tony Leon actively participated in the CODESA constitutional negotiations which led to the birth of a democratic South Africa. He has been at the forefront of national and international events, both as a front-ranking parliamentarian and renowned orator and writer and as a Vice-President of Liberal International. He has addressed many international conferences, from the Council on Foreign Relations (Washington DC, and New York City) to the World Economic forum in South Africa.

Tony Leon has been widely published in academic journals and in the media and has authored articles for Time Magazine, The Spectator, Harvard International Review, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Financial Times, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Daily Telegraph. He has published three books: “Hope and Fear: Reflections of a Democrat” (Jonathan Ball 1998) and the South African bestseller “On the Contrary: Leading the Opposition in a Democratic South Africa” (Jonathan Ball 2008) and "The Accidental Ambassador: from Parliament to Patagonia" (Jonathan Ball 2013).

After standing down from political leadership in 2007, he was awarded a Fellowship at the Institute of Politics, John F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. In 2008 he was a Visiting Fellow at the Global Center for Liberty and Prosperity, Cato Institute, Washington DC.

Tony Leon was born in Durban, South Africa in 15 December, 1956. He was educated at Kearsney College, Kwazulu Natal and at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, where he graduated with the BA, LLB Degrees. He served as President of the Law Students’ Representative Council. He qualified and practised as an attorney of the Supreme (High) Court of South Africa and lectured in Constitutional Law at the University of Witwatersrand.

Prior to entering Parliament, he was elected (1986-1989) to the Johannesbrug City Council, where he led the opposition.

In 2000 he married Michal Even Zahav and has two step-children.

Speaking Topics
1. “Leadership for Tough Times” - In this inspirational address, he draws on a lifetime of experience and close encounters with some of the political and business greats of the world ; his fascinating conclusion on the “ten rules for leadership unusual “, presents a  hopeful, but  practical,  picture for all participants as South Africa and the world  face the severest economic and political tests of the modern age.
2. “The Road to 2014” - Using both his unique access (personal encounters with the last five Presidents – FW De Klerk, Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki, Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma) and well-honed political and analytical skills, Ambassador Leon looks at the possible ways forward for South Africa.

3. “Future Imperfect”- South Africa and the World in is the throes of the Global Financial Crisis. Fresh from three years of practising economic diplomacy in the high-growth markets of South America, Ambassador Tony Leon presents a vivid and realistic portrait of the crises in world markets and where new hope arises in often the unlikeliest places, and how to take advantage of the maxim “never waste a good crisis.”

4. “Behind Embassy Walls” –The Changing face and facts of global diplomacy and “where in the world is South Africa?”

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