Peter Leon won't leave DA

2000-11-29 14:37

Johannesburg - Former opposition leader in Gauteng, Peter Leon, on Wednesday said he would remain a member of the Democratic Alliance, even though he had accepted a top government job.

Leon told Sapa that despite claims by a DA Gauteng official, he had not defected to the ANC.

Leon, brother of Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon, was recruited by the African National Congress to head a government task team of experts to oversee the introduction of the new system of local government after 5 December, the Financial Mail reported on Wednesday.

The appointment will be made by President Thabo Mbeki and was to be officially announced by Local Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi.

A draft joint statement said Leon would be assisted by a technical secretariat, which was in the process of being appointed.

"In making this appointment, Government recognises Peter Leon's six years experience of provincial government and the role he played in bringing metropolitan policing to Gauteng.

"Added to this, Leon has considerable experience as a lawyer, specialising in constitutional and administrative law. This is an enormously challenging and complex assignment, which I have every confidence Leon will meet," Mufumadi said.

Leon said the position would be part-time at his own request.

"I believe it will enable me to make a contribution to governance generally while promoting democracy at a key level of government in South Africa.

"More particularly, it will help ensure that the new system of local government which is created after 5 December is in fact sustainable." Leon said.

The Financial Mail said the move was something of a watershed as Leon was until recently the head of the Democratic Party in Gauteng, and frequently clashed with the ANC on corruption and governance issues.

"His forthcoming appointment as part-time chairman of the task team adds to the political distance between him and his brother, which many observers believe began with disenchantment with the confrontational campaign Tony Leon ran in the general elections last year."

Leon was first approached about the position by Smuts Ngonyama, the head of the presidency in the ANC. ANC secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe reportedly "walked (Leon) through his decision".

Ngonyama said he hoped the appointment would show the ANC was prepared to reach beyond its own party borders to further the national interest.

Tony Leon, was en-route to Johannesburg, and was not immediately available for comment. - Sapa