DA Leader in the Eastern Cape
Born and bred in Bedford in the Eastern Cape, Athol was deputy head boy and captained the rugby, swimming, water polo and surf lifesaving 1st teams at high school. For 20 years, he farmed his family farm in Bedford, was Chairman of the Farmers Association, Chairman of the Bedford Club, committee member of various sporting associations, executive member of the Eastern Province Agricultural Union and the “Smaldeel” Soil Conservation Committee. His community bestowed an honorary life membership for the Bedford Club and Farmer’s Association on him.
Athol was elected Executive Councillor: Amathole District Municipality in 1995. In 1999, he was elected to the Legislature and re-elected in 2004. He was leader of the DA Caucus and Leader of the Official Opposition.
Within the Party, he has held various positions including DP Provincial Chairperson in 1998 and DA Provincial Leader since 2002. He has served on the Federal Council and Federal Executive since 1998 and 2002 respectively.
Coming from a political family, with his grandfather being a MP for the United Party, and his father a Divisional Councillor, Athol is motivated by community and public service and is accustomed to leadership responsibility. He leads a Province that was recognised by the 2004 Federal Congress for its efforts and received the Province of the Year award. His ability to communicate in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa is a valuable asset.
He left the Legislature in 2009 to become a Member of Parliament. He won a highly contested election between himself and Ryan Coetzee and became the Parliamentary Leader and held this position until October 2011. His term of office would have been 5 years, but the rules changed and a mid term election was called. Athol lost the vote against Lindiwe Mazibuko.
When Pine Pienaar, MPL passed away early in 2013, Athol felt it his duty to go back to his beloved Province and lead the Eastern Cape from the vanguard. He resumed his duty as Leader of the Democratic Alliance in the Legislature on 1 June 2013.