Helen Zille is the Premier of the Western Cape, a member of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament, leader of South Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance political party, and a former Mayor of Cape Town.
Zille is a former journalist and anti-apartheid activist, and famously exposed the truth behind the death of Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko while working for the Rand Daily Mail in the late 1970s. She also worked with the Black Sash and other pro-democracy groups during the 1980s. In the political arena, 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).
Zille's work as mayor, and in particular her successes in tackling crime, drug abuse and unemployment in Cape Town, led to her selection as 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 is a former finalist in the South African Woman of the Year Award. Zille speaks English, Afrikaans, and Xhosa as well as German, the language of her parents.