Tony Leon is an award-winning author, noted speaker and consultant, and has had two highly successful careers in both frontline South African politics and international diplomacy.

Ambassador Tony Leon
Ambassador Tony Leon

Currently the Chairman of Resolve Communications (Pty) Ltd., he also consults to business in South America and South Africa, writes a column for South Africa’s leading newspaper, Business Day, and speaks to various audiences through Conference Speakers

For nearly twenty 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.

A trained lawyer, Ambassador Tony Leon actively participated in the critical constitutional negotiations that 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, institutes and think tanks from the Council on Foreign Relations (Washington DC, and New York City) and the Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House), London, to the German Council on Foreign Relations, Berlin, the European Parliament in Brussels and to the World Economic Forum, Oxford Union and Yale Political Union.

Tony Leon has been widely published in academic journals and in the media and has authored articles for inter alia, Time Magazine, The Spectator, Harvard International Review, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Financial Times, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Daily Telegraph, and the New Statesman. He has published four books: “Hope and Fear: Reflections of a Democrat” (Jonathan Ball 1998), the SA bestsellers “On the Contrary: Leading the Opposition in a Democratic South Africa” (Jonathan Ball 2008), which won the prestigious Recht Malan Prize for nonfiction that year. Pan MacMillan published “The Accidental Ambassador”, in April 2013. In May 2014, he launched his new book “Opposite Mandela – Encounters with South Africa’s Icon”, to critical acclaim.

After standing down from the leadership of the opposition in 2007, Ambassador Tony Leon was awarded a Fellowship at the Institute of Politics, John F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard.

University. He led a study group and seminar series on Development and Democracy in Africa. In 2008 he was invited as a fellow to the Cato Institute in Washington DC, where he published a paper on liberal democracy in Africa.

Nelson Mandela said of Tony Leon, on his retirement from political leadership (2007):

“Your contribution to democracy is enormous, you have more support for all you have done than you might ever read about.”

Speaking Topics for Tony Leon

1. “Leadership That Makes a Difference” – 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. “South Africa Today and Tomorrow” – 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, Tony Leon looks at the possible ways forward for South Africa after the 2014 election, the credit downgrade and the economic and political challenges which confront us in a world of uncertainty.

3. “Future Imperfect”- South Africa and the World is still feeling the aftermath 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?”

5.“Opposite Mandela”- Tony Leon has just published a “riveting and readable” (Rapport 22 June 2014) account of Nelson Mandela’s consequential presidency through his first -hand access to South Africa’s icon. In this address he illustrates how our first democratic president changed the face of our and the world’s politics and how we draw lessons for today from that era.

6. “Investing and Doing Business in Africa- New Hope or False Hype?“. Africa’s impressive recent gains in growth and market share have invited investor interest at home and abroad. There are some real success stories and some whopping failures. Analyzing the trends and using real time examples, Ambassador Tony Leon examines whether the once ‘forgotten continent’ is indeed open for business and some of the cautionary tales to remember.

7. “Lessons from the Latins“- Mexico could soon replace China as the centre for global manufacturing; Brazil, once the continent’s super-star is embroiled with challenges yet has seen the most spectacular growth of its middle class in recent world economic history and Colombia and Panama have shrugged off their troubled histories to position themselves as the Singapores of Latin America. Using his experience as the recent South African Ambassador to three countries in the region, Ambassador Tony Leon offers unique insights into this fast growing global market and the opportunities on offer in it.

N.B. Additional titles can be customised to client’s requirements or the speaking topics listed above can be combined.

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