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UP-CLOSE WITH DIRECTOR GENERAL AND SECRETARY OF CABINET PHINDILE BALENI

The Director-General in the Presidency and Secretary of Cabinet, Ms Phindile Baleni, (formerly Nzimande), was born in Soweto and spent her childhood and early adulthood in Katlehong, in the East Rand of Gauteng.
 
Director-General Baleni boasts a distinguished professional career both in the public service and in the private sector. Ms Baleni is an admitted Attorney and Conveyancer holding a B.Proc and a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degrees, both from the University of Witwatersrand, where she enrolled after matriculating from a high school in Vosloorus. She commenced her legal career as a Candidate Attorney at Wright Rose Innes Attorneys in Germiston, where she subsequently became a Professional Assistant. She left the firm to become a partner at Moseneke and Partners in 1993.
 
In 1994 she was appointed special legal advisor to the then Gauteng MEC for Local Government and Housing, specialising in constitutional and administrative law issues. During this period, she was appointed as a member of the Board of Directors of NURCHA, a lead project of the Reconstruction and Development Programme, by former President Nelson Mandela.
 
At the end of 1996, Ms Baleni joined the municipality of the City of Johannesburg, where she accumulated substantial experience in strategic planning and the management of complex and diverse projects. Here she spearheaded various transformation initiatives and the formation of new municipal-owned entities. Later, as Executive Director of the Contract Management Unit, she would go on to create and manage the legal and governance frameworks for such entities as Joburg Water, City Parks, City Power and Johannesburg Roads Agency, and manage the shareholder interests on behalf of the city.
 
In July 2003, Ms Baleni joined Electricity Distribution Industry Holdings as CEO, an organisation formed by the then Department of Minerals and Energy to oversee the establishment of six financially viable Regional Electricity Distributors (REDs) in South Africa. This national project involved assets worth about R270 billion then, and a staff compliment of close to 30 000.
 
She was subsequently appointed as the CEO of the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) in April 2011. In this capacity she became the Chairperson of the Regional Electricity Regional Regulators Association (RERA) – a Southern African Development Community (SADC) body – and a member of the executive committee of the African Forum for Utility Regulators (AFUR) – an African Union body. These bodies were established with the aim of harmonising and integrating regulatory frameworks for African utilities as part of the African Union’s objective of creating an environment conducive to investment in infrastructure on the continent.
 
In March 2015, Ms Baleni assumed duty as the Director-General in the Office of the Premier, Gauteng Province, a post to which she brought a wealth of experience in strategic leadership and management. Highlights of her work included: leading the team that developed Growing Gauteng Together: 2030 Plan of Action; promoting innovation in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and establishing a new Disaster Management structure as she spearheaded the Gauteng City Region Reponse to COVID-19.
 
Ms Baleni focused on government performance and good governance during her tenure. She led the development of a “medico-legal litigation battle plan” to reduce the financial losses arising from medical negligence claims against Government, amongst others. For this and other achievemets she was conferred the 2019/2020 DPSA Batho Pele Award for the best Provincial DG, silver and the Office of the Premier Gauteng won the best Premier’s Office award, bronze.
 
Ms Baleni who previously chaired the board of the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services SETA (MERSETA), currently serves on the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) board, as well as on the Council of the University of Witwatersrand.
 
In April 2021, Ms Baleni was appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to the post of Director-General of The Presidency and Secretary of Cabinet. Ms Baleni has thus made history as the first woman to be appointed as head of the highest political office in the land, and thereby, the most senior public servant. In this capacity she is responsible for ensuring that government is coherent and delievers on its electoral mandate. The latter is encapsulated in the National Development Plan (the broad and long-term plan of government), and MTSF, which incoporates the 6th Administration’s seven priorities. To this end, Director-General Phindile Baleni has her work cut out and is fully ensconced in her duties which include: steering The Presidency, overseeing Cabinet processes, and heading up FOSAD which is the planning and coordination machanism of Directors General of all government departments, provincial Offices of all the Premier and local government through SALGA. She is also the first Head of Public Administration (HOPA), a position contemplated in the NDP as a necessary element towards building a professional and capable public service in the country.

SOURCED FROM THE PRESIDENCY WEBSITE.

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