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Ryan Coetzee

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Title: Ryan Coetzee  
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Subject: Rondebosch Boys' High School, Coetzee, January 1973, History of the Democratic Alliance (South Africa), Dianne Kohler Barnard, Athol Trollip
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Ryan Coetzee

Ryan Coetzee (born 8 January 1973) is a South African politician and political strategist, currently serving as a special adviser to Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Nick Clegg.[1] He previously served as a Member of South Africa's Parliament between 2004 and 2008, as CEO of South Africa's official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance between 2004 and 2009, and as the party's general election campaign chief in 2006, 2009, and 2011.[2] He served as chief adviser to Western Cape Premier Helen Zille between 2009 and 2012.[3]


Coetzee holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Higher Diploma in Education, both from the University of Cape Town.

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.[4] Since 1999, Coetzee has been the party's chief strategist, playing a central role in the party's election campaigns,[5] which have seen the DA grow from 1.7% in 1994 to 24.2% in the 2011 local government elections.

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.[6]

In 2005, Coetzee was appointed the DA's CEO, in which role he radically reorganised the party and its finances, and designed and managed the 2006 local government election campaign and the 2009 general election campaign. In 2008 he oversaw a relaunch of the party designed to position it as a party of government, and not merely one of opposition.[7]

In 2009, Coetzee resigned as party CEO to become a Special Advisor to the Premier of the Western Cape and party leader Helen Zille, with a brief to co-ordinate government policy and strategy. He succeeded as DA CEO by Jonathan Moakes.

In September 2012, in a surprise move, Nick Clegg appointed Coetzee strategy director of the Liberal Democrats in Britain. In late October 2013 it was announced that Coetzee might return to South Africa and was being offered a Western Cape provincial cabinet post by the DA.[8]

Personal life

Coetzee has a son, Daniel Jackson Coetzee, born on 20 October 2006.


In August 2011, Ryan Coetzee was embroiled in controversy when it was revealed that he and several other top DA advisers sat on a multimillion-rand tender committee which had awarded a contract to advertising agency TBWA Hunt Lascaris. The process was criticised because of allegations that proper procedures and regulations had not been followed.[9]

Following the allegations, an investigation was carried out by the Public Protector's office, which concluded that there was evidence of maladministration (four counts); but there was no evidence of unlawfulness and that the contract was "not invalid".[10]


Party political offices
Preceded by
Chief Executive Officer of the Democratic Alliance
2004 – 2009
Succeeded by
Jonathan Moakes

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