Helen Zille, Mayor of Cape Town and wiinner of the 2008 World Mayor Prize

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Helen Zille, Mayor of Cape Town,
wins the 2008 World Mayor Prize

By Tann vom Hove, Editor

14 October 2008: Helen Zille, Executive Mayor of Cape Town and leader of South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance, has been awarded the 2008 World Mayor Prize. Commentators supporting her nomination said that in a country devoid of present-day role models, this amazing lady was making a difference and giving people there hope: “Her only equals are Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela in Southern Africa.”

| The project | Methodology | The top 11 mayors of World Mayor 2008 |

The 2008 World Mayor Commendation has been awarded to Elmar Ledergerber, Mayor of Zurich. The mayor (Stadtpräsident) deserves this honour because of his ability to build bridges between the wealthy sections of society in the city and the less well-off. The Mayor believes everyone, Swiss or non-Swiss, living in Zurich should feel the city is their home.

Third place has been given to Leopoldo López, Mayor of Chacao and prominent Venezuelan opposition politician. He is admired as a hands-on mayor as well as a national politician fighting for democratic openness and fairness in Venezuela.

Phil Gordon, Mayor of Phoenix (USA) and Ulrich Maly, Mayor of Nürnberg (Germany) complete the top five. Previous winners of the of the World Mayor Project are, in 2004, Edi Rama, Mayor of Tirana and now also Albania’s opposition leader, in 2005, Dora Bakoyannis, Mayor of Athens and now Greek foreign minister, and in 2006, John So, Lord Mayor of Melbourne.

The project
World Mayor, a project organised by the urban affairs think tank City Mayors, aims to raise the profile of mayors worldwide as well as to honour those who have made long-lasting contributions to their communities and are committed to the well-being of cities nationally and internationally. According to city residents from all continents, a great mayor must possess these qualities: leadership and vision, good management abilities, social and economic awareness, ability to provide security and to protect the environment as well as having the skill to foster good relations between communities from different cultural, racial and social backgrounds. The World Mayor Project was first carried out in 2004.

In 2004, Edi Rama won the Award for his achievements in turning the drab and neglected post-communist capital of Albania into a thriving western European city, before being chosen as leader of the country’s Socialist Party. As mayor, Dora Bakoyannis contributed substantially to the success of the Athens Olympics and ensured that the Games would be of long-lasting benefit to the Greek capital. After receiving the 2005 World Mayor Award, she was appointed Greek foreign minister. John So, the winner of World Mayor 2006, is Melbourne’s first directly elected Lord Mayor. Born in Hong Kong, he is an example of the ‘Australian dream’.

Prior to entering politics, Helen Zille made a name for herself as a political journalist, working for the Rand Daily Mail, South Africa’s leading liberal newspaper during the apartheid era. While at the paper, she emerged as a leading anti-apartheid critic, famously exposing the circumstances behind Steve Biko’s death in police custody in 1977. Since becoming Mayor of Cape Town in March 2006, Helen Zille has overcome an aborted attempt by the provincial government to downgrade her office and an attempted coalition coup. To the people of Cape Town, the Mayor is an inspiration and shining example of good local government.

The 2008 World Mayor Project was conducted over an 18-month period, starting in spring 2007. During 2007, City Mayors, the organisers of the project, invited a worldwide audience to submit nominations of mayors deemed worthy of being among the most outstanding city leaders in the world. More than 74,000 voters nominated a total of 820 mayors for this year’s World Mayor Award. Some mayors received thousands of nominations while others collected only a handful. The organisers of World Mayor 2008 only considered those nominations which were accompanied by supporting testimonials.

Based on the number of nominations and the persuasiveness of supporting statements, City Mayors drew up a long-list of 50 finalists. The list included 11 mayors from Asia, 10 from North America and 11 from Latin America as well as 15 mayors from Europe and 3 from Africa.

Some of the 2008 finalists for the World Mayor title were from the world’s best-known and largest cities, while others represented smaller communities. Most of this year’s finalists were being short-listed for the first time. Under the World Mayor rules, winners and runner-ups from previous years were not eligible. They include John So, Lord Mayor of Melbourne (Australia), Job Cohen, Mayor of Amsterdam (Netherlands), Hazel McCallion, Mayor of Mississauga (Canada) and Edi Rama, Mayor of Tirana (Albania).

During the second round of World Mayor 2008, from January to July, voters were invited to select from the long-list of 50 their choice of title candidate. While in previous years, simple click voting was permitted, although not encouraged, in 2008 this voting method was not allowed. In order to have their votes registered, participants had to provide a reasoned comment. Some 205,000 people from around the world participated in the second round of World Mayor 2008.

In July 2008, City Mayors’ editors drew up a short-list of eleven mayors, who stood out in terms of number of votes and quality of comment from their supporters. Between July and the end of September, the organisers of the World Mayor Project, consulted and took advise on who of the eleven mayors from the final shortlist should receive the 2008 World Mayor Award. Among the editors of City Mayors, Helen Zille was the unanimous choice.

The 2008 top 11 mayors
While the total numbers of votes cast for the mayors in the top eleven exceeded 85,000, the number of votes received by individual mayors did not have a significant bearing on the decisions by the judging panel of editors. They were primarily influenced by the passion and persuasiveness of testimonials bestowed to mayors. As some city leaders in the top eleven represent communities of several million people while others are mayors of cities of less than 500,000 residents, the City Mayors panel of editors was of the opinion that basing judgement on numbers alone would unfairly disadvantage mayors from smaller cities.

The top 11 mayors of World Mayor 2008
Rank Mayor City Country
1 Helen Zille Cape Town South Africa
2 Elmar Ledergerber Zürich Switzerland
3 Leopoldo Eduardo López Chacao Venezuela
4 Phil Gordon Phoenix USA
5 Ulrich Maly Nürnberg Germany
6 Jaime Nebot Guayaquil Ecuador
7 Marides Fernando Marikina City Philippines
8 Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf Tehran Iran
9 Göran Johansson Gothenburg Sweden
10 Salvador Gándara Villa Nueva Guatemala
11 José Fogaça Porto Alegre Brazil

In 11th place:
José Fogaça, Mayor of Porto Alegre, Brazil
José Fogaça is one of three mayors from South America who progressed from the 2008 World Mayor long list to the short list of eleven mayors. When José Fogaça was elected in 2004, commentators predicted the demise of the city's signature participatory budgeting policy, but one reason for the mayor’s success in this year’s World Mayor Project was his decision to continue his predecessor’s policy. As one commentator put it: “The mayor fine-tuned participatory budgeting to make it more relevant to all the city’s stakeholders.” In 2006, Mayor Fogaça gave a lecture in London promoting the concept. He has also spoken at global events about the need for cities to embrace partnership with the private sector without recourse to privatisation of important city services.

José Fogaça changed parties twice during his political career. To the surprise of many, he defected from the centrist PMDB to the post-communist Socialist People's Party (PPS) in 2001 in an attempt to secure re-election as senator, which later backfired when he lost the 2002 general election. Fogaça's political career was revived in 2004 when, as the candidate for the PPS/Brazilian Labour Party alliance, he secured election as the 35th mayor of Porto Alegre. However, following his 2004 election on behalf of the PPS, Fogaça returned to the centrist PMDB in September 2007.

One World Mayor commentator suggested that Mayor Fogaça’s switch of parties made him unsuitable for a place on the World Mayor shortlist: “I live in Porto Alegre and I can see no reason why Mr José Fogaça should be honoured with this prize. First, he changed his party after elected. I do not trust any politician who win an election with a party and change it soon later, with no apparent reason but personal interests.” | Comments | Profile |

In 10th place:
Salvador Gándara, Mayor of Villa Nueva, Guatemala
In January 2000, Salvador Gándara became the Mayor of the Municipality of Villa Nueva serving his first term. He was re-elected for a second term on 15 January 2004, and re-elected for third consecutive term in September 2007. In his projects as Mayor of Villa Nueva, stands out the creation and strength of a competitive programme for his municipality, which looks at the creation of ideal conditions for the investment and generation of employment; infrastructure projects such as the construction of the water treatment plants, streets, sidewalks, parks, gardening and drainage systems.

Mayor Gándara’s investment in infrastructure projects is the main reasons why residents of Villa Nueva strongly supported him during World Mayor 2008. “Before the mayor was elected Villa Nueva had dirt roads, no drains, the market was dirty and many streets were blocked. Now we have the cleanest city in the country.”

As mayor, Salvador Gándara also set up the municipal traffic police, established a public library, and made crime fighting one of his priorities. Social projects included the building of dental and medical centres, open to all, as well as vocational training facilities, which serve as models to other municipalities in Guatemala. | Comments | Profile |

In 9th place:
Göran Johansson, Mayor of Gothenburg, Sweden
Göran Johansson, Gothenburg's city leader, is one of the best-known politicians in Sweden. Johansson's combative and "undemocratic" style as an old school trade unionist is not to the taste of everyone in his Social Democratic party however and he is often regarded as difficult to work with. For the residents of Gothenburg, however, their mayor is the man who would do anything for his beloved Gothenburg.

One commentator said: “Göran Johansson sees what has to be done and then he makes it happen. And he has been doing that for a very long time. Among many things, he is the architect behind making Gothenburg the leading city of Scandinavia when it comes to attract international events such as congresses or championships of various sports, which the people love to attend. Respected by a vast majority of the citizens, regardless of what political sympathies they usually have, he is commonly known as ‘The strong man of the city’. If it hadn't been for the fact that he has always stood up for Gothenburg rather than taking a bow for the politicians of his own party in the capital, he could probably have made his way to the absolute top of the party. But that is not the kind of guy he is, and maybe that is why he earns so much respect from the people of Gothenburg city.” | Comments | Profile |

In 8th place:
Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf, Mayor of Tehran
Tehran’s popular mayor has picked up plaudits across the board for his modernisation of the capital’s infrastructure and public services, as well as angered President Ahmadinejad with his unabating rivalry. Mohammad Ghalibaf presents himself as a competent moderate, having secured election twice in 2005 and 2007, but critics at home and abroad point to his record in the area of human rights as a former police chief.

In the aftermath of the 1999 student protests in Tehran, in which several students died and hundreds more were injured at the hands of the police, Mohammad Ghalibaf, appointed chief of police by current Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Ghalibaf’s stint as chief of police is remembered for his modernising zeal, with the introduction of the 110 emergency number and the overhaul of the police forces, as well as the introduction of new technology and policing methods. Ghalibaf was also praised for his handling of the subsequent 2003 student protests, which passed with no loss of life.

While beaten by Ahmadinejad in the June 2005 presidential poll, Ghalibaf was able to inherit the Tehran mayoralty from him with the Tehran City Council electing him to the post in September 2005, though on an 8-7 vote margin. The city council, elected in 2003 was dominated by Ahmadinejad’s Alliance of Builders of Iran faction, but in 2007 was replaced by a body divided between reformists and conservatives allied to either Ahmadinejad or Ghalibaf. Ghalibaf was re-elected by the city council in May 2007, a predictable event given his popularity and record of delivery, though the Ahmadinejad government had lobbied aggressively for his defenestration.

Two years on from Ahmadinejad’s elevation to the Iranian presidency and Ghalibaf’s assumption of the mayoral post in Tehran, Ghalibaf points to his energetic record of public service reform, with the introduction of 380 neighbourhood councils in the capital and the use of more private sector involvement in new infrastructure projects. The mayor brims with pride when he speaks of how the city has introduced more transparency and accountability into the budgeting process and achieved higher tax revenues though incentives. He is also a keen student of other metro areas around the world, actively investing in monitoring innovation in traffic management and public transport. | Comments | Profile |

In 7th place:
Marides Fernando, Mayor of Marikina City, Philippines
Marides Carlos Fernando (sometimes known as MCF) was elected mayor of Marikina City in 2001 and re-elected in 2004 and 2007.

Marides Fernando is a member of the centre-right Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats party of President Gloria Arroyo. She is married to Bayani ("hero") Fernando (also known as BF), her immediate predecessor as mayor and current Chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority (himself the son of a former mayor) and Director of the Department of Public Works and Highways in the capital. Marides ran the BF Corporation of property developers during her husband's three-term tenure as mayor (1992-2001), serving as vice president for admin and finance since 1985. In January 2008, BF announced his candidacy for the 2010 presidential elections.

Mayor Fernando is credited with having turned Marikina into one of the Philippines most desirable places to live in. “Mayor Marides Fernando transformed Marikina City from a sleepy and lackluster town (always in the shadow of its bigger sister city Quezon City) into one of the most progressive and shining city in the Philippines. With the Mayor's creative leadership by example, Marikina is the most peaceful, most orderly, cleanest, greenest, corruption free, educated and cultured new city in Asia.”

Under Marides Fernando leadership Marikina was named the “greenest and cleanest city” in the Philippnes. The city also received a number of other awards: “The most recent and most prestigious award received the city of Marikina was the Most Competitive Metro City in the Philippines from the prestigious Asian Institute of Management (AIM) Policy Research Center, Asia Foundation, International Labour Organization (ILO), German Technical Foundation, and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, and the Continuing Excellence Award in Local Governance given by the Galing Pook Foundation, DILG, Local Government Authority and the Ford Foundation.” | Comments | Profile |

In 6th place:
Jaime Nebot, Mayor of Guayaquil, Ecuador
Jaime Nebot was first elected mayor of the Ecuadorian metropolis in 2000, re-elected in 2004. While inland Quito is the national seat of government, the port of Guayaquil ("the pearl of the pacific") acts as Ecuador's largest urban centre and economic hub. Nebot's signature policies as mayor have been to improve both the city's physical appearance and its economy. This has seen the redevelopment of the city's centre through the erection of glass skyscrapers and the enhancement of tourist districts, as well as the construction of a new airport and the Metrovía rapid transit system, all of which have earned him an international reputation as an urban innovator.

In 2005 Nebot led a march against the country's president Lucio Gutiérrez, a nominal left-winger initially allied to the Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez but who dropped the left for the right and was later forced out of the country. As of 2008, Nebot finds himself at odds with the country's president once more, though some argue that it is President Rafael Correa, a leftist economist, who has picked the fight. To his supporters Mayor Nebot is, however, first and foremost the man who has made Guayaquil a city where it is a pleasure to live. “He is a hero. He rescued a dirty boring city without progress, he improved places that everyone thought were missed or destroyed and he reconstructed, renewed and cleaned so much; and now, thanks to his work we have a clean, modern, and beautiful city with tourist places, monuments, activities that everyone can enjoy because of its low cost. He gave every guayaquileño pride and joy.” | Comments | Profile |

In 5th place:
Ulrich Maly, Mayor of Nuremberg (Nürnberg), Germany
Ulrich Maly was first elected mayor of Nuremberg in 2002. Maly is a representative of the German Cities Association on the EU’s Committee of the Regions. Maly’s term of office has been guided by what he refers to as the solidarity-based politics of ‘Municipal Politics in Dialogue’. He was re-elected in March 2008 with 64 per cent of the vote. Born in the Bavarian city in 1960, Ulrich Maly joined the Socialist Youth of Germany, the Social Democratic Party’s youth wing, aged just seven and joined the SPD aged 24.

The mayor has made a name for himself fighting racism and xenophobia. “Ulrich Maly is a convinced democrat and has been fighting neo-Nazis' rallies in Nürnberg and the region effectively. He supports and encourages the citizens of the Nürnberg to stand up against nationalism, xenophobia and intolerance. Mr Maly has shown the world that Nürnberg has learned the lessons of history. He wants (t)his city to be the spearhead of reconciliation, tolerance and peace.” The mayor’s stance against intolerance of any kind have also won him national and international admiration.

Ulrich Maly’s election success in March 2008 and the support he received as candidate for World Mayor 2008 is due to his ability to explain to residents his policies and the reasons behind his actions. One commentator said: “The mayor governs from the midth of his people.” | Comments | Profile |

In 4th place:
Phil Gordon, Mayor of Phoenix, USA
An adopted Phoenician, the city's dynamic mayor has made the running on crime and the economy as part of his recent walkover re-election campaign. A former teacher, businessman and city hall aide, Phil Gordon is a registered Democrat in an otherwise Republican-leaning county of a predominantly Republican state. Born in 1951 in Chicago, Gordon's family moved to Phoenix in the 1960s.

Following his time in the mayor's office professionally, Gordon, a Democrat, was successful in gaining election to the city of Phoenix council in 1997 and again in 2001. During this time he successfully secured the passage of a local law to make the random discharge of a firearm a felony offence, the so-called Shannon's law, named after a 14 year old Phoenix girl killed by a stray bullet. He also led efforts to tackle reckless and criminal landlords in the city. He was successfully elevated from the council to the office of mayor in 2004, securing 72 per cent of the vote in the non-partisan election the previous autumn.

In 2008, Phil Gordon faced a recall petition by a group calling itself ‘American Citizens United’ (ACU). It’s supporters objected to Phoenix being a so-called sanctuary city, where undocumented immigrants were given certain rights and protection from arbitrary harassment.

However, the majority of Phoenix residents support the mayor’s efforts to build bridges: “Our mayor is a man who builds bridges; his complex and diverse constituency makes the job especially difficult in this era of anti-immigrant sentiment. He is intelligent, fair, open and, above all, creative. He doesn't just see our city as his domain, he sees Phoenix as a global citizen, partner and player.”

Phil Gordon is also praised for his courage of insisting that illegal immigrants were treated as human beings: “Mayor Gordon has gone above and beyond his duties by having the courage that most other politicians don’t have and not only saying what is on his mind but defending citizens and "non" citizens of Phoenix. It doesn’t matter if you were born here or not, we are all human and he has defended all our rights as they are being violated and will not stop until it is taken care of. Truly a working mayor not a mayor working to take our money.” | Comments | Profile |

In 3rd place:
Leopoldo Eduardo López, Mayor of Chacao Municipality, Caracas, Venezuela
The story of Venezuela both at home and abroad since the beginning of this century has rested on one man, Hugo Chavez. As divisive at home as abroad, the emergence of a city mayor as his principal opposition has seen Leopoldo López’ reputation emboldened, having entered city politics on wafer-thin majority in 2000 only to receive a landslide 81 per cent of votes four years later.

López’ political career began with his stint in the centre-right Justice First Movement party (Movimiento Primero Justicia), which was founded in 1992 as a campaign for the protection of the judiciary against executive interference, serving on its board of directors. In July 2000, aged just 29, López was elected as Mayor of Chacao Municipality on just 51 per cent of the vote, though he increased this to 81 per cent on his re-election in October 2004. With the emergence of Zulia state governor Manuel Rosales as Hugo Chavez’ principal challenger in the 2006 presidential election, López and several others from Justice First switched their allegiance to Rosales’ party, the social democratic A New Era (Un Nuevo Tiempo).

Since becoming mayor, López has been on the receiving end of several kidnapping attempts, both successful and unsuccessful and even an assassination attempt. It is claimed that these have been inspired by supporters of Hugo Chavez, as has the attempt to discredit him by the Comptroller General, who has banned him from holding public office once his term as mayor ends, on account of a donation to Justice First by his former employer, which was sanctioned by his mother in her capacity as PVDSA head of public affairs.

In April 2008 López announced his candidacy for the Caracas mayoralty, directly taking on Chavez' United Socialist Party electoral machine. However, months later he was among 371 candidates debarred from standing for public election by the state electoral tribunal, which ruled him in breach of the law on account of the earlier donation row involving Justice First.

To his supporters Leopoldo López is simply the best mayor in Venezuela: “Mr López is a great man and great leader. He is truly committed to his country and county (Chacao.) He has implemented innovative programs that have benefited children, adults and elderly. He is a hard working mayor, who has surpassed or endured many obstacles (mostly political.) He has done much and the whole Venezuelan community can say, without a doubt, that Chacao is one of the safest community in the entire country. He has created new hospitals, schools and parks.” Or: “Amidst the decaying city of Caracas, Chacao is an island of order and care for citizens. Leopoldo López makes all Venezuelans dream of better cities for a troubled and decaying country, so poorly administrated that all the money coming from oil sales cannot make for a better living for us.” | Comments | Profile |

In 2nd place:
Elmar Ledergerber, Mayor of Zurich, Switzerland
As Mayor of Zurich, Elmar Ledergerber pursues policies of growth and development for the city, with sustainability forming an essential issue in all aspects of politics. Born in 1944, Elmar Ledergerber has a university degree in history and literature as well as in economics.

In March 2002, Elmar Ledergerber was elected Mayor of the city of Zürich. From 1998 to 2002 he was a Member of the city council and responsible for the department of Buildings and Urban development. From 1987 to 1998 he was a Member of the Swiss National Council. The mayor leads the City council, which consists of nine members from four different political parties.

Mayor Ledergerber is often described as a bridge builder between the city’s Swiss nationals and immigrants as well as between the well-off and the less wealthy residents of Zurich. “Elmar Ledergerber has the unique capability to integrate the diverse political interests of the rich banks and the ordinary citizens, and achieve consensus on a good balance between moderate taxes and responsible spending for social welfare.”

During Elmar Ledergerber’s leadership, Zurich has several times been named as the most liveable city in the world: “After a large period of decline, Zurich is now vibrant again - not only has it been rated number one for quality of living for several years now, but it is now developing further. Mr Ledergerber is a major driving force behind the redevelopment of Zurich-West, the expansion of public transport, the re-discovery of urban recreational space... I have been living in Zurich for 4 years now and he is definitely my choice for world mayor.”

The mayor is also praised for staying in touch with ordinary people: “Elmar Ledergerber is smart and articulate, he listens to the people, in fact he is very approachable and friendly, has an excellent way to communicate and explain his visions yet with the right amount of tenacity to get them into reality. Zurich is a wonderful town with an outstanding quality of life - and this also thanks to our Mayor Ledergerber who has significantly contributed to this success over the years.”

Or: “Elmar doesn't *rule* the city, he lives *with* the people. He has a sure instinct for the needs of Zurichs inhabitants, is very successful, always polite, interested in many different issues and most of all highly passionate about his job! He is not only a role model but also just a cool guy from the neighbourhood! Go Elmi go!!!” | Interview | Comments | Profile |

In 1st place:
Helen Zille, Mayor of Cape Town, South Africa
As Mayor of Cape Town, South Africa’s legislative capital and leading tourist destination, Helen Zille has already overcome an aborted attempt by the provincial government to downgrade her office and an attempted coalition coup since her election in March 2006. Elected as leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance, with a background as a provincial and national legislator behind her, she was a finalist for South African Woman of the Year in 2003.

Zille’s role in public life began with a stint as political correspondent for the Rand Daily Mail, South Africa’s leading liberal newspaper during the apartheid era. While at the paper, she emerged as a leading anti-apartheid critic, famously exposing the circumstances behind Steve Biko’s death under police custody in 1977, which was claimed to have been as a result of self-inflicted wounds. She also made her name for herself at the height of apartheid as a member of the Black Sash white women’s resistance movement and as a peace activist in her adopted city of Cape Town. She then worked in public affairs as a public policy consultant and as director of communications for the University of Cape Town.

Prior to becoming mayor, Zille was elected as a member of the Western Cape provincial legislature in 1999, serving as executive council member (MEC) for education until 2001 and then as leader of the opposition, before being elected as an MP to the South African Parliament in 2004, also in Cape Town. Zille is leader of the Democratic Alliance, a relatively recent party in post-apartheid South Africa, but with antecedents within earlier parties of the liberal democratic multiracial tradition in South African politics, most notably the Progressive Party of Helen Suzman. The Progressive Party, with its roots in the urban liberal intelligentsia of the white minority population, was the principal opposition movement within the whites-only Parliament during apartheid. Through the process of several mergers, the Party extended its narrow urban support base, emerging in 2000 as the Democratic Alliance and the primary opposition to the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in the non-racial constitutional dispensation of the post-apartheid era.

Because of the close-run nature of the 2006 city election results, where the Democratic Alliance was able to form an administration with the support of minor parties, relations between Zille and the ANC in both the city council and the provincial legislature began on an immediately strained footing. Cape Town has seen a steady succession of mayors and interim leaders on account of discredited ANC rule in the city, with predecessors caught up in corruption and internet porn scandals, and it is now the only major city in the country not governed by the ANC.

During the World Mayor 2008, Helen Zille has had the most passionate and eloquent support of any candidate. Her humanity, charm, integrity, vision and political know-how have all be praised in equal measures. “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.”

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

“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.”

“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.”

“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 her.”

“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." | Interview | Comments | Profile |

Elmar Ledergerber, Mayor of Zurich has been awarded the World Mayor Commendation

• 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