From left are John Steenhuisen, Tony Leon and Haniff Hoosen. (Kaveel Singh, News24)
Durban - The upcoming local government elections are probably the most important since 1994, former Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon said on Wednesday.
"I think although this is a local government election, given the backdrop against which it’s happening from Nenegate, through to the multiple crises of governance and the mushrooming of corruption, it is the most important since 1994."
Leon was speaking to News24 before going on a march against drugs and crime in Chatsworth, south of Durban.
"For the first time in our history ever, we have a president who… the highest court in our land said violated his oath of office."
According to Leon, if the opposition did not make a "meaningful breakthrough" in the upcoming elections, the prospect for peaceful change in the country was "not good".
"I do think that you can have a good judiciary and good private sector, but if you don’t have a strong competitive democracy you are missing the essential prospect for a national revival."
Leon said he was prepared to assist the DA.
"I visited my old constituency in Johannesburg and have been assisting with fundraising for Helen Zille and Patrica de Lille in Cape Town. I will be here for a few days."
Leon added that the DA needed to expand its national presence.
"They’ve got a get a good national presence. Sometimes you have to make a few compromising concessions for that. It doesn’t just happen on its own. It’s got to try to become a home that more South Africans who were never in the DA feel at home in."
Leon said he believed DA leader Mmusi Maimane was a "good man with courage and purpose". He said Maimane had to be resolute and brave as a leader.
"I led the opposition for 13 years; he’s only been there for one. It’s a tough job and you’ve got to be tough minded and put up with a lot of stuff.
"In a sense, leading the opposition today is easier than when I was leading it. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t new challenges. I’m sure he’s got the youth, the drive and intelligence to succeed."
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