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Ryan Coetzee (born 8 January, 1973) is a prominent South African politician and political strategist, and current CEO of the country's official opposition, the Democratic Alliance. He was a Member of Parliament between 2004 and 2009, and headed up his party's general election campaigns in 2004 and 2009.[1] He is presently chief adviser to Western Cape Premier Helen Zille.[2]


Coetzee holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Higher Diploma in Education, both from the University of Cape Town.[1] During this time he was a youth activist for the DA's predecessor, the Democratic Party (DP), and became the party's youth leader between 1992 and 1993.[1]

Career in politics

In 1997 Coetzee was picked by DP leader Tony Leon to head up the party's parliamentary operations at the age of 24. Leon subsequently notes Coetzee's appointment as "the most significant" he made during his 13 year tenure as leader of the party.[3] Coetzee has subsequently played a central role in the party's electoral campaigns, during which time the party has doubled its support base - from 1.5 million voters in 1999 to 3 million in 2009.[4]

In April 2004 Coetzee became a Member of Parliament, and was assigned the shadow health portfolio. Six months later he famously asked then President Thabo Mbeki during a Parliamentary debate whether he believed the high rate of sexual violence in South Africa contributed towards the spread of HIV, and whether the President actually believed HIV causes AIDS. Mbeki responded by accusing Coetzee of succumbing to the "disease of racism", but avoided responding directly - thus reigniting criticism of his government's response to the pandemic.[5]


  1. ^ a b c "Mr Ryan Coetzee".  
  2. ^ "DA whizz kid to be Zille's chief adviser".  
  3. ^ Tony Leon, On The Contrary, 2008, Jonathan Ball, ISBN 978-1-86842-305-7, pg. 298
  4. ^ "DA whiz Coetzee leads party race for top role".  
  5. ^ "Break silence on disease of racism - Mbeki".  
Party political offices
Preceded by
Chief Executive Officer of the Democratic Alliance
2004 – 2009
Succeeded by
Jonathan Moakes


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