Helen Zille, Mayor of Cape Town, South Africa

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Comments in support of
Helen Zille
Mayor of Cape Town (South Africa)

The finalists for the 2008 World Mayor Award were chosen on the number of votes received and, more importantly, on the persuasiveness and conviction of supporting statements. Below we publish a representative selection of comments received about Helen Zille, Mayor of Cape Town, South Africa.

Comment: Helen Zille runs probably the most sensitive and challenging Unicity in the world, yet has done so in a friendly, professional, compassionate manner, using her outstanding leadership and inter-personal skills to hold together a fragile political coalition and deliver on the promises to ALL the people of Cape Town at the same time. An exceptional human being, and an outstanding mayor and political leader.

Comment: We would like to thank you all for your time and efforts in recognising mayors around the world for their exceptional service to the voting public.
On that note, I would like to emphasise the work that the honourable Mayor Helen Zille has done for the city of Cape Town and the country as a whole. Helen Zille is undoubtedly one of the most phenomenal leaders in our county's history. A country that has been plagued by Apartheid for so many decades. A country that is now at risk of loosing its democratic identity due to the centralisation of power by the ruling ANC government.
Nevertheless, the constitutional democracy of our country will be defended at all costs thanks to the leadership of Helen Zille. Helen took control of the Cape Town Metropolis in 2006 and has turned the city into one of the best-run municipalities in the country.

Helen Zille not only has the leadership but also the personality of a great leader. She connects with people on grass roots level and values the constitutional democracy as entrenched in our constitution. It is not every day that you hear of a leader who respects democracy and the rule of law. Helen has done so much for Cape Town through her diligence and passion. She has fast-tracked the pace of service delivery and the provision of basic services. She has turned Cape Town into one of the top tourist destinations in the world. Crime in the Cape Town city centre has dropped by a staggering 66%  and corruption has been exposed. She has prioritised funding in the city by investing in infrastructure development and preparations for the 2010 Soccer World Cup stadium in Greenpoint Cape Town are well on schedule. Helen holds officials to account who fail to serve the public and ensures that all officials are appointed based on competence and not race. Helen has brought the diverse city together and for the first time in its history, the people have enjoyed sound and stable governance. Helen has even joined various peace organisations in the interest of raising awareness on crime and drug abuse in our communities. Helen has even participated in various candlelight vigils around Cape Town in the interest of exposing drug lords who continue to plague our communities.

Comment: My vote is for Helen Zille because she cares passionately about South Africa and its people. A recent example of her compassion, leadership and practical common-sense approach to problems is the recent refugee crisis in Cape Town. When politicians were talking, Helen Zille was acting and organising, setting up emergency shelters, arranging for community help and getting her feet muddy. Go Helen, we need people like you as leaders on our planet.

Comment: I am a colleague of Helen Zille's in the Cape Town municipality.  I have known her now for a number of years, and have nothing but respect and admiration for her. Her work ethic is phenomenal. Nothing is too small or unimportant for her to do. Despite the huge amount of publicity and attention she receives, she has not let it go to her head, and is modesty personified.
Most importantly, she really believes in what she is doing, and is genuine in her desire to improve the lives of as many people as possible. She gives of herself (too much sometimes) and is passionate about furthering true democracy in South Africa.
I served under the previous mayor, and now have the privilege of serving under Helen. The difference in the council is phenomenal. Every councillor is included in portfolio committees with real oversight powers and input, whereas previously input from all but the chosen few was listened to.  We now have a public accounts oversight committee (the first in a South African municipality), with an opposition party chairperson, to ensure real accountability and minimise corruption. Mayoral Committee meetings, which were previously held behind closed doors, are now open to the public and the media.  The appointment of officials is being done on merit, instead of on political allegiance. Performance is being driven from the top, and we are all being held accountable in our sphere of influence.
Helen is a true leader and a person of integrity.  She inspires people wherever she goes, and is a very deserving finalist in this competition.

Comment: Helen is simply brilliant. She is not afraid of anyone, and she believes that one should deal with the facts on the table whether the facts is negative things about someone on her team, or about the opposition. She often sympathises with the people of Cape Town by making time to attend controversial judgements or to help with protests against drug lords. She does a magnificent job as mayor, while at the same time fill the roll of the leader of the opposition party in our country. It takes someone amazing to do that. And she did not just take that on and see how it goes, she personally appointed a committee to investigate if it would be possible to do both jobs before she accepted. She is the best mayor in the world.

Comment: In a country devoid of present-day role-models this amazing lady and role-model, is making a difference and gives us hope. Her only equals are Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandele in Southern Africa.

Comment: Helen Zille is by far the most worthwhile contender for the title of World Mayor. Against all odds she has fought off many attempts by the ANC to unseat her. She is also instrumental in ensuring that the City of Cape Town is the best run metropolis in the whole of South Africa.

Comment: Voting for Helen Zille as the World's greatest Mayor is one way of saying thank you for the immense effort this woman has put in thus far to keep the show on the road in Cape Town. In hugely challenging circumstances she has maintained dignity and clarity of vision. She is a highly intelligent, focussed and fair problem solver,  unbiased in her search for really intricate political, social and munisipal  solutions. Long may she live! Capetonians solute you, Helen

Comment: Many forget that, as a journalist, Mrs Zille was responsible for uncovering the facts surrounding the death of Mr Steve Biko. She has gone on to become one of the most honest, fair minded and hard working politicians this country has ever seen, resisting all efforts by the ANC to undemine her efforts to improve Cape Town for all its residents. The world needs more of her ilk.

Comment: Ms Zille has made the governance of the city transparent for all to see. She has shown time and again that she is incorruptible and raised the level of administration and services to extremely high levels of efficiency. She has demonstrated great compassion for the poor and homeless while, at the same time, helped to consolidate Cape Town as one of the world's leading tourist attractions.

Comment: Mayor Hellen Zille is a visionary leader who has managed to bring together a diverse coalition of political parties to effectively and efficiently lead Cape Town. She has turned around the vast budget deficit of the city rooted out corruption and introduced a range of services to improve the city, addressed the infrastructure maintenance backlog Reviewed tender procedures to create maximum opportunity for big and small suppliers and contractors to compete on a fair basis as well as to create maximum opportunities for the unemployed and improve the plight of the poor.

Comment: She is the most amazing woman and should definitely win this competition. in fact, she should be President of South Africa, if not Southern Africa. She is capable of taking on the woes of the world

Comment: Ms Zille is a leader with great vision. She is focused and inspires great confidence. She would certainly make a great President in South Africa.

Comment: Here is a mayor who is in touch with her people across the spectrum, irrespective of their colour, race or creed. She stands out as an honest person who puts the needs of her people before her own. She uses her common sense and is not out to heap honours on herself. She stands for good!

Comment: Mrs Zille has been a breath of fresh air in the previously stuffy, corrupt and inept City Hall. She has been tough on corruption, has stuck by principle no matter what the political consequences, has ensured service delivery to all residents, has gone head to head with national government to ensure the City gets the funding it needs, and through it all has maintained a wonderful connection with the citizens. Never has a mayor been more deserving of accolade than Helen Zille.

Comment: Mrs. Zille has got South African's excited about leadership again. I was so surprised the other day when I attended a family gathering to hear my 70 and 80-year old grandfathers discussing politics very passionately, thanks to Zille. We were all excited in 1994 when the evil apartheid finally ended, but since Mr Mandela, we have all been bitterly disappointed by leadership of our rainbow nation South-Africa. Zille not only gets everybody excited she truly does restore some hope in a country desperate for leadership. She faces fierce opposition that would often stoop to levels unbecoming; she opposes them with great moral character and grace rather than sink to their level. She truly is our iron lady with hart and an inspiration to nation that needs some inspiring.

Comment: Helen Zille has proved to the residents of Cape Town, the Western Cape and all other Provinces in South Africa that she will continue to fight for justice, equality and do what is best for the people of her City and of this country (South Africa). Whether or not Helen wins this award she is an outstanding Mayor in the minds and hearts of Cape Tonians. Well done Helen, go forward and continue your excellent work.

Comment: Change we can believe in. The Obama campaign slogan says it all for our Mayor.Politicians with integrity are in short supply. If we had more Helens we could turn the whole continent of Africa around!

Comment: Helen Zille is a passionate and very hard-working mayor who has stood up to enormous bullying to push for improved service delivery in her city.

Comment: Ms Hellen Zille is dynamic, hard working hands-on mayor. She stands up for her principles and is not intimidated by the opposition. She truly believes in an open opportunity society. She sets a wonderful example for all thise who work with her.

Comment: I believe her to be the answer that is needed to the Cape Town people. All the very best to her and hope on our return to live in that beautiful place which is the best in the world that she has been given the opportunity that we so need to lift the hearts and minds of this beautiful country and god be with her in this endeavour.

Comment: South Africa's Iron Lady.

Comment: Helen is the only mayor in South Africa who fights for what is right, regardless of race or political affiliation.

Comment: Zille is combining her job as Mayor of one of the largest South African metropolitan municipalities with her task as national Leader of the Democratic Alliance, no mean task in a difficult political environment.

Comment: Helen Zille is the smile and heart in South Africa, her determination to make all South Africans involved and uplifted is an admirable stance, and I salute and support all her efforts.

Comment: Mayor Zille is a person of great integrity, principle and energy. Representing as she does the chief opposition party in South Africa, helps to deepen democracy in this country because it demonstrates that in a democracy there is room for opposing views within the political system. Winner does not take all.

Comment: Helen Zille has in a short time removed the partisan allocation of contracts to friends, family and benefactors of officials and councillors in the previous local council. There is less fraud and palm greasing but more emerging businesses are now getting contracts than was previously the case, and the city is getting better value for money. Helen's team in local government is a good example of how an African city can be governed without having to submit to the whole sale bribing of officials to get anything done.

Comment: Ms Helen Zille is an absolute credit to our whole country, not just the city of Cape Town.  As a Mayor she has made many changes to the benefit of the citizens in her city and sets an exemplary example to others.

Comment: Ms Zille has stood up to criticism without attacking the reputations of her critics, and has been willing to admit it when local government has not been up to scratch.

Comment: Helen Zille is a true representation of what is possible in South Africa. She and her administration have made an enormous difference to the everyday lives of Cape Tonians and in so doing, showing the rest of the country what can be possible!!!

Comment: In a country where the ruling ANC is so dominant, Helen Zille is not afraid to stand up to their bullying tactics and confronts the issues head on. She is a true South African hero!

Comment: Helen Zille drove out late one evening to address a group of back-yard dwellers who had set up camp on a recreation field in the middle of a neighbourhood. She arrived looking like I did.  In my tracksuit pants and night slippers. That very evening each of the dwellers were found alternative (safer and warmer) accommodation and any disputes between the residents and shack dwellers had been resolved. I cannot think if another mayor that is able to deal with people on their level, another politician in our country that is able to speak the truth instead of telling people what he/she thinks they want to hear.  Helen is a mayor of the people for the people. A mayor who will get arrested with the people to bring worthy causes to light. Helen is the only politician that makes young girls want to be all they can be and that actually inspires me to hope for my country.

Comment: Helen Zille and her team have brought stability, decency, integrity and good management to the City of Cape Town after many years of ANC mismanagement, corruption and lethargy.  She has done a brilliant job of turning things around in the face of thwarted and hostile forces.  A deserving winner of this prestigious award.

Comment: Helen Zille is one in a million.  Gets things done and is the most versitile Mayor I have ever read about!

Comment: Helen Zille is a shining example to everyone in RSA and around the world. She is the only mayor i know that is actually willing to come down and speak to people from all races, wealth and religions. She is not scared to get down to basics and visit the poor. God bless Helen and I hope she wins. She is a woman of her word. When she says she will do something, it is not an empty political promise that temporarily staisfies the people she works for, she actually carried it out.

Comment: Helen Zille is dedicated to turning Cape Town into the best City in the world. She has already proved through hard work and dedication what can be done.

Comment: Helen Zille's decisions are always well thought out, sensible and logical, yet  also compassionate.  She includes the opinions of the people of Cape Town at every level of society in her decision/policy making.  She is not afraid of standing by and acting on her decisions even in a difficult political climate.  It would be a great thing to see her recognised by this award.

Comment: Helen Zille has taken a strong anti-corruption stance unlike her predecessor. She has also succeeded in uniting a politically divided opposition in the best interests of Cape Town citizens. Her strong leadership vis-a-vis crime, the preparations for the 2010 World Cup and drug abuse has made Cape Town a world class city again.

Comment: Mayor Zille has transformed a corrupt administration into a dynamic and service orientated Council, which is now tackling the enormous backlogs of maintenance and services caused by the previous inefficient ANC mayor.

Comment: Ms Zille is by far one of the greatest political minds to have emerged since the end of the Apartheid era.

Comment: She is the first Mayor in my lifetime that has made such an impression on me. She fights the things that should be fought, like drug abuse and has set aside money for that cause from the City as well as demonstrated in the areas that are really drug infested. She speaks out, is often in the newspaper over relevant things and works extremely hard. She has also had to fight a lot of opposition against her by the governing party (ANC). She is the sort of person that I want to see staying in her position and believe that she will really make a difference to our City. I would even vote for her for President.

Comment: Helen Zille is an inspiration. Her courage, her tenacity, her honesty and common sense is so refreshing as we plow through the difficult political time we are having at the moment. She is a shining example of good governance.

Comment: We were first acquainted with Ms Zille in her capacity as Minister of Education of the Western Cape Province. We knew of a child who was of school-going age (6) who's parents did not have the ability to enrol him in the education system - they lacked the communication skills to move his application forward. My wife, in desperation, called on Ms Zille, the head of education in our province, and briefly explained the situation to her. This busy lady, with all the pressures and agendas she had to meet, put her immediate interests aside, made two phone calls, and ensured the boy got the opportunity he had a right to. She called my wife two hours later, to give the progress report and let her know he would be enrolled. We were so impressed!! We have come to hear of many others who she, in all kinds of ways, has personally helped. Mz Zille's leadership has brought a great sense of stability to Cape Town. As Mayor she leads a coalition of political parties tactfully and skilfully. She gets things done, and always credits the team for the achievements. Her unique blend of talents are generously shared - We know when she speaks she has thought the matter through and she has the best interests of ALL the multi-cultural and multi-lingual citizens of Cape Town in mind. Her example of kindness and diligence (hard work) is making a significant difference where it matters most - in the lives of men, women and children, in homes and families of the citizens of Cape Town and South Africa. I think many will shed a few tears when her term of office expires.

Comment: Beyond the achievements Helen has accomplished in the city, she has inspired people, and we believe her, and in her. We know she will do what she says, and give it every ounce of strength and commitment to see it happen. Because of her character in this regard, and addressing the issue, she completely unifies ever nation and culture in Cape Town (has the backing of every colour), because we know she is for us. Her life and conduct and example, makes me want to have people in leadership and authority positions - but only people like Helen.

Comment: Mayor Zille is a phenomenal woman, she leads the city as apposed to ruling the city, she understands the people who live in the city and what they need to be successful. She appeals to people across the age, gender and race profile. She is a true inspiration to the youth of South Africa.

Comment: Mayor Zille is a voice of reason and calm in politically difficul times. She is direct and intelligent. She looks after the interests and pockets of the citizens of Cape Town. Zille negotiates with the ruling party as hard as humanly possible to defend the interest of her constituency. Her popularity is increasing in Cape Town and in the rest of South Africa because she is one of the very few politically sane voices in this country at the moment. Because of her political bravery and integrity, I believe that Helen Zille should be the World Mayor for 2008.

Comment: Helen Zille is a person for the people! She has shown what can be accomplished when the right groups come together and stand for what is right, whether they are minority or majority. Her dedication and all encompassing enthusiasm is an inspirational example on how to govern and lead. There's a reason Cape Town is the pinnacle point of Southern Africa, possibly even Africa. Her commitment encourages innovation and progress and I fully support her fight against drug abuse and making the city a safer place to be. I hope she wins. It would be deserved recognition

Comment: Helen is totally committed to ensuring that the city's capital infrastructure is maintained at above international benchmark standards and it is her passion that the people of Cape Town are proud to be citizens of a city whose administration system operates at international standards and for this she has a very high work ethic and leads by example.

Comment: Helen Zille is one of the most respected people in South Africa.  She has integrity and is hard at work for the people of this country.  More than we can say for any other politician in South Africa.  It is with pride that I will teach my daughters to be like yourself.  Thank you for who you are!

Comment: Ms Zille has that extremely rare combination of the 3 things most necessary for civic leadership: political acumen, absolute integrity, and a compassionate heart - she's a gutsy lady more concerned with truth and reality than with her own image, and the amount of work she does in one day is probably more than most South African politicians do in a month. Despite every attempt in the media by various rivals to make her look bad, referring to her as some kind of monster, her integrity shines through every time: her words are backed by her actions, and her promises are kept.  She's one in a million. Helen gives us hope.  That is the mark of a true leader - the ability to inspire hope.  She truly deserves this award.

Comment: Helen Zille is without doubt the best mayor that Cape Town has had. She has been instrumental in cleaning up the City Centre, building bridges in what is a quite divided population (economically). Helping the poor and being there for anyone of the citizens should we wish to communicate with her. She has done it over and above the "call of duty" working what appears to be over 15 hours a day and more it seems. During the recent xenophobic attacks on refugees, she opened up Town halls and camp sites to accommodate them safely

Some 205,000 people from across took part in the 2008 World Mayor Project

• Omar El Bahraoui, Rabat, Morocco
• Helen Zille, Cape Town, South Africa
• Amos Masondo, Johannesburg, South Africa

• Stephen Mandel, Edmonton, Canada
• Sam Katz, Winnipeg, Canada
• Martin Chavez, Albuquerque, USA
• Michael B Coleman, Columbus, USA
• Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu, USA
• Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles, USA
• Willie W Herenton, Memphis, USA
• Manny Diaz, Miami, USA
• Raymond Thomas Rybak, Minneapolis, USA
• Phil Gordon, Phoenix, USA

• Julio César Pereyra, Mayor of Florencio Varela, Argentina
• José Fogaça, Porto Alegre, Brazil
• Juan Contino Aslán, Havana, Cuba
• Jaime Nebot, Guayaquil, Ecuador
• Paco Moncayo, Quito, Ecuador
• Salvador Gandara, Villa Nueva, Guatemala
•  Antonio Astiazaran, Guaymas, Mexico
•  Ernesto Gandara, Hermosillo, Mexico
• Ricardo Ehrlich, Montevideo, Uruguay
• Juan Barreto, Caracas, Venezuela
• Leopoldo Eduardo López, Chacao, Venezuela

• Han Zheng, Shanghai, China
• Zhang Guangning, Guangzhou, China
• C M Sheila Dikshit, Delhi, India
• Fauzi Bowo, Jakarta, Indonesia
• Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf, Tehran, Iran
• Tadatoshi Akiba, Hiroshima, Japan
• Hiroshi Nakada, Yokohama, Japan
• Marides Fernando, Marikina City, Philippines
• Vladimir Gorodets, Novosibirsk, Russia
• Park Wan-soo, Changwon City, South Korea
• Kadir Topbas, Istanbul, Turkey

• Patrick Janssens, Antwerp, Belgium
• Boiko Borisov, Sofia, Bulgaria
• Eleni Mavrou, Nicosia, Cyprus
• Bertrand Delanoë, Paris, France
• Pierre Albertini, Rouen, France
• Jens Böhrnsen, Bremen, Germany
• Ulrich Maly, Nürnberg, Germany
• Wolfgang Schuster, Stuttgart, Germany
• Kyriakos Virvidakis, Chania, Greece
• Sergio Cofferati, Bologna, Italy
• Walter Veltroni, Rome, Italy
• Rafal Dutkiewicz, Wroclaw, Poland
• Rosa Aguilar, Cordoba, Spain
• Göran Johansson, Gothenburg, Sweden
• Elmar Ledergerber, Zurich, Switzerland