Government's longest-serving DG bows out

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 18 Mar 2024
Department of Science and Innovation DG Dr Phil Mjwara has retired.
Department of Science and Innovation DG Dr Phil Mjwara has retired.

Dr Phil Mjwara, the Department of Science and Innovation’s (DSI’s) long-standing director-general (DG), has retired.

This comes shortly after Mjwara was honoured with the South African Medical Research Council’s Presidential Award for his contribution to promoting SA’s science, technology and innovation.

In a statement, the higher education, science and innovation ministry says Mjwara has a long and distinguished career as a senior public servant. With 18 years of service, he is the country’s longest-serving DG.

“He played a leading role in shaping the policy and institutional architecture of South Africa’s National System of Innovation (NSI). He led the establishment of some of our country’s key science institutions, such as the Technology Innovation Agency and the South African National Space Agency,” says the ministry.

“He also played a leading role in laying the basis for and repositioning our NSI through policy interventions, such as South Africa’s first national Science and Technology Foresight Exercise in the 1990s and later, the White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation and the Decadal Plan for Science, Technology and Innovation.”

Mjwara holds a BSc, MSc and PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand.

His academic career includes serving as professor of science and technology policy at the University of Pretoria, and physics lectureships at the universities of the Witwatersrand, South Africa and Fort Hare.

He also served as chairperson of the Forum of South African Directors-General, and co-ordinated some of government’s key projects and ensured inter-departmental synergies.

“Dr Mjwara leaves the public service with a solid reputation of visionary and ethical leadership,” says higher education, science and innovation minister professor Blade Nzimande.

Mjwara’s retirement sees the DSI’s Daan du Toit, deputy director-general for international cooperation and resources, appointed as acting DG, for a period of 12 months.

According to the statement, Du Toit has a “wealth of experience”. He started his career in government at the then Department of Foreign Affairs, where he trained as a diplomat. Since 2002, he has been attached to the DSI and served as the department's representative in Europe.

As DDG, he is regarded as having played a significant role in initiating and maintaining some of SA’s key global engagements and partnerships in the area of science, technology and innovation.

“The minister thanks Dr Mjwara for his service to the nation, and wishes Mr Du Toit well on his appointment as acting director-general,” reads the ministry statement.