Otta Helene “Helen” Zille (legal name Maree née Zille) is a South African politician. She is the current Premier of the Western Cape (since 2009), She is a member of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament. She is also the former leader of South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) political party, and a former Mayor of Cape Town.
Here are top 20 things you probably didn’t know about Helen Zille.
20. Zille called for irresponsible men who knew they were HIV positive, yet refused to use condoms and had multiple sexual partners, to be charged with attempted murder.
19. Under her leadership, DA won 89 seats in the National Assembly and 22.23% of the National vote.
18. In May 2009, Zille accused the ANC of asset stripping.
17. She accused Pres. Zuma’s “deeply sexist views”, accused him of being a “womaniser”, and condemned him for putting “all his wives at risk of contracting HIV” by having unprotected sex with an HIV positive woman.
16. In April 2015, Zille announced that she would not be standing for re-election as party leader.
15. She was arrested in September 2007 outside the Mitchell’s Plain police station.
14. In March 2008, Helen Zille took her anti-drugs campaign to Johannesburg, leading a protest march. Marchers wore DA T-shirts, bearing the message No to drugs and save our children
13. Zille was also actively involved in the South Africa Beyond Apartheid Project and the Cape Town Peace Committee. She later gathered evidence for the Goldstone Commission which investigated attempts to destabilise the Western Cape before the elections in 1994.
12. Zille and her husband later offered their home as a safe house for political activists during the 1986 State of Emergency, and she was temporarily forced into hiding with their two-year-old son.
11. She is a member of the Rondebosch United Church in Cape Town.
10. She married Professor Johann Maree in 1982, and they have two sons, Paul (born in 1984) and Thomas (1989).
9. She studied at the University of the Witwatersrand, where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree.
8. Zille speaks English, Afrikaans, and Xhosa as well as German, the language of her parents.
7. She has won may honorary awards including World Mayor of the Year in 2008 – from a field of 820 candidates, She was also chosen as Newsmaker of the year 2006 by the National Press Club in July 2007, and as one of 24 former finalists in the South African Woman of the Year Award.
6. Zille has worked in all three tiers of government – as the Western Cape province’s education MEC (1999–2004), as a Member of Parliament (2004–2006), as Mayor of Cape Town(2006–2009), and as Premier of the Western Cape (2009–present).
5. She is a former journalist and anti-apartheid activist, and was one of the journalists who exposed the truth behind the death of Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko while working for the Rand Daily Mail in the late 1970s.
4. She was involved in the Black sash movement during the 1980’s., she served on the regional and national executives of the organisation and was Vice-chair of the end conscription campaign in Western Cape.
3. She resigned from Rand daily mail with editor Allister Sparks, after the paper owner Anglo America, demanded that sparks tone down the paper’s equal rights rhetoric.
2. In 2004 Zille became a Member of Parliament with the Democratic Alliance (DA). Within the DA she rose to the level of deputy federal chairperson and served as national party spokesperson and spokesperson for education.
She was elected as the new leader of DA by a large majority on 6 May 2007.
1. In June 2008, she challenged the president of the ANC and the 2009 presidential candidate, Jacob Zuma to a public debate on ten key issues such as the arms deal, disbanding of the Scorpions, the situation in Zimbabwe, HIV/Aids and labour legislation. Zuma declined to participate