Joel Netshitenzhe 2021


Joel Khathutshelo Netshitenzhe was born in 1956 in Sibasa, Venda (now the Limpopo province). His formal qualifications include a Diploma in Political Science from the Institute of Social Sciences, Moscow (1984) a Postgraduate Diploma in Economics Principles from the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies, SOAS (1996) and a Master of Science degree in Financial Economics from the same university (1999).

He is currently Vice-Chairperson and Executive Director of the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflections (MISTRA) – a transdisciplinary research institute – and is also a Visiting Professor at the Wits School of Governance.

Joel Netshitenzhe was part of the efforts to dislodge the apartheid system in our country, including as a member of the African National Congress (ANC) in exile, and was involved in the negotiation processes that led to the democratic elections in 1994.

Through his contributions to the processes that led to the transfer of power from the National Party government to the democratically elected ANC government, he was recruited to serve in President Nelson Mandela's office as part of a new cohort of civil servants.

Thereafter, he occupied various senior management government positions with his last assignment heading the ground-breaking Policy Co-ordination and Advisory Services (PCAS). This mechanism was central to ensuring inter-governmental co-ordination and integrated policy development and implementation. In this latter role he was credited for steering the alignment of government planning processes across all spheres of government.

After retiring from government work, Joel has continued to be engaged in social, economic and political issues that are topical in our country. He participates in social projects that are championed by organisations such as the Nelson Mandela Foundation. He also holds various positions in the corporate world and at research institutions.

His contribution to the struggle for democracy in South Africa and his subsequent career in government, includes serving as Head of Communication in the Presidency of Nelson Mandela in 1994, Chief Executive Officer of Government Communication and Information Systems (GCIS) from 1998 to 2006, Head of Policy Co-ordination and Advisory Services (PCAS) from 2001 to 2009 and Member of the National Planning Commission from 2010 to 2015. In his work, he has guided policy development and the transformation of South Africa along the road to becoming a truly non-racial, non-sexist, unitary, democratic and prosperous society.

His Board memberships include the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and the Life Healthcare Group. He is also a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC.

He has been invited to lecture, present conference papers and act as keynote speaker at various fora, particularly on the topic of the Developmental State. His articles and scientific contributions in the field of social sciences have contributed to the body of knowledge on topics that include the political-administrative interface and have been cited both locally and abroad in various academic journals.

During the struggle against apartheid colonialism, and in his subsequent work of building a nation founded on the principles of the Freedom Charter and the national Constitution, he has managed to bridge the gap between political activist, strategist and intellectual in ways that few have been able to master, making it an honour for Nelson Mandela University to confer the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (honoris causa) on Joel Khathutshelo Netshitenzhe.