I enjoy shaping the economic direction of the country- Maphosa

21 November 2023

As well as leading the education’s sector response to El Nino and forming part of drafting teams for two National Development Plans, Stan Maphosa has grown in leaps and bounds since joining the civil service in 2014. In our latest civil servants’ blog, he talks to us about his role as a Planning Officer in the Ministry of Education and Training.

Government Communications (GC): “What is your current job now and what does it entail?”

Stan Maphosa (SM): “I am a Planning Officer/ Economist, responsible for providing policy programme, strategic planning and project development advice to the education and training sector. I am the technical lead for the preparation of budget estimates and advise on budget implications on development projects. Moreover, I coordinate inter-sectoral activities by public enterprises, NGOs and regional organizations. I also coordinate all planning, budgeting and execution of the sector’s capital programmes e.g. construction of schools and in tertiary institutions. I also coordinate and supervise implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the sector’s projects and/or programmes including donor funding for sectoral support. I assist the Ministry in preparing proposals for Technical Assistance (TA) and external funding of sector projects and/or programmes, and organize studies on sectoral issues, review consultants’ work and assist in evaluating consultants’ proposal for studies, facilitate conferences, seminars, workshops and meetings, which are of planning and budgeting nature. I am also the national focal person for education emergencies, a programme aimed at ensuring the education sector is resilient to disasters and that education continues even during emergencies.”

GC: “So far, what would you say the biggest highlight/achievement of your Civil Service journey has been?”

SM: “Successfully leading the education sector in the response against the El Nino induced drought in 2015/16, ensuring schools, especially in Mbabane, had access to water and sanitation during the drought. I have also formed part of the technical drafting team for two National Development Plans; 2019/22 and the National Development Plan 2022/27 and also coordinated the development of the education sector Development Plan (Multi Year Action Plan 2022/25).”

GC: “What is the biggest project that you have been involved in working for Government?”

SM: “There are four:

  1. 1. Coordinating the development and formulation of the Education Ministry’s budget in the last four years;
  2. 2. Supervising a consultant to develop the current Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP 2022/34) and the Multi Year Action Plan (MYAP 2022/25);
  3. 3. Coordinating and leading the Free Primary Education Grant Review and finally obtaining approval from Cabinet is the highlight of one of the projects I have been involved in;
  4. 4. Leading the Education cluster’s response to the 2015/16 drought.”

GC: “What do you love the most about working in Government?”

SM: “The Government is a unique machinery that connects the people with the State under the social contract. Therefore, the satisfaction I get from honouring my end of the social contract is unmatched and working with different personalities and people from heterogeneous socio-economic backgrounds allows continuous learning and unlearning which is quite interesting.”

GC: “What do you love the most about your job and profession?”

SM: “Being an economist in government allows one to contribute to policy decisions and shape the economic direction of the country. The work involves making significant impacts on the lives of all citizens and the overall well-being of the economy. Government economists have access to extensive data sets, research, and resources that inform their analysis and decision-making which equips them (economists) with a rich and comprehensive understanding of economic trends, challenges, and opportunities.

Working in the planning office of the government provides opportunities to collaborate with policymakers, fellow economists, and experts from various fields. This collaborative environment fosters learning, knowledge sharing, and the development of comprehensive and well-informed policy solutions. Furthermore, working in this space has given me the opportunity to provide evidence-based recommendations and analysis that have influenced a number of policy decisions and has improved my experience in research thus helping me shape economic policies that align with broader socioeconomic goals and promote sustainable growth. My job also entails engaging in a wide range of tasks, including policy analysis, program evaluation, and providing expert advice and this variety of responsibilities keeps the work engaging and intellectually stimulating. Lastly, my work involves serving the public and contributing to the greater good by addressing socio-economic disparities, promoting social welfare, and fostering economic stability and growth which is quite fulfilling on its own.”

GC: “What would you say are some of the challenges that come with your job?”

SM: “Government’s decision-making usually involves multiple layers of bureaucracy, regulations, and stakeholder involvement, which can slow down the decision-making process and make it more complex. Coupled with the challenges of balancing short-term demands and immediate needs with long-term objectives and goals, civil servants often face negative attitudes and public scepticism, which can impact on our morale and job satisfaction. Sometimes we operate within constrained budgets, which can limit the resources available for projects, programs, and initiatives. However, working around these challenges is actually what makes the work more interesting.”

GC: “What lessons have you learnt working for Government?”

SM: “Dedication, team work (stakeholder management) and following laid down procedures are essential for one to thrive in the civil service.”

GC: “What advice would you have for someone who wants to work for Government?”

SM: “To work for the Government requires that one possesses the highest level of interpersonal skills and commitment to go beyond the call of duty to serve in your space and respect for opinions from diverse people.”

GC: “What are your aspirations for the future in Government?”

SM: “Of course, growing through the ranks within Government until I occupy a strategic decision-making position. However, working in the international civil service is also part of my “Project Me” goals.


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