Former DA leader Tony Leon addressed supporters in Durban on Sunday evening. Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo/AfricanNewsAgency/ANA

Former Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon on Monday morning defended comments he had made about new ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa saying he did not "love Cyril".

Leon's comments came after after he received severe backlash from DA members in KwaZulu-Natal.

Leon, in an address in Durban on Monday night, had said he sees Ramaphosa as a game changer in South African politics and told DA supporters that he should be supported in his campaign to rid South African politics of corruption experienced under President Jacob Zuma’s administration. 

“Cyril Ramaphosa’s election has been a game changer for everyone, for the country, for our economic fortunes, and indeed the DA will have to up its game because Ramaphosa is a very different proposition,” said Leon.

He added that Ramaphosa was a challenge to the DA. 

"The DA should actually be very open and generous towards Ramaphosa, and say to him ‘you have brought a huge change, and we saw it on the weekend with (the new) Eskom board’.” 

Leon received severe criticism for his comments from DA members in KZN including the party's provincial leader Zwakele Mncwango and MPL Mbali Ntuli who took to social media to voice their unhappiness about Leon's comments.

Mncwango on his Facebook page, said while he respected Leon's view he did not agree with him calling for DA members to support an ANC leader and Ntuli said on her Facebook that "Cyril’s ‘New Deal’ appeared to have charmed our former leader". 

In a response to Ntuli's post, Leon commented that he hardly needed to state his own loyalty to the DA.

":I do not 'love' Cyril. However only the willfully deaf and blind would not recognize the change he brings to politics. As I said last night he should be supported 1000% when he's right and DA should as even this abbreviated report states ' become his greatest enemy when he deviates from the anti corruption course he promised. If anyone operating in politics does not recognize that perhaps they should take another look and listen to the zeitgeist abroad in SA and elsewhere right now."