The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande said his department is making significant progress in the development of the first Decadal Plan (10 year) for Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI). The plan is a product of the White Paper on Science and Innovation adopted by cabinet in March 2019.
The newly adopted White Paper is a refinement of the 1996 one. According to Ursula Rust, senior policy specialist in the department of science and technology (DST), the difference between the White Papers is that in 1996 the focus was on developing the National System of Innovation (NSI).
The 2019 White Paper, Rust added, promotes the development of innovation culture as well as focusing on partnerships that include business, government civil society and academia. She said today the focus is on increasing the impact of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) on the country’s national priorities including economic growth.
Said minister Nzimande: “This White Paper was developed in response to rapid global technological advancement and megatrends, as well as the need to harness STI for greater and more inclusive social and economic impact.”
He added that: “The framework for the Decadal Plan, as well as institutional and strategic reviews and a foresight exercise to identify STI priority areas, had been completed, and that the Decadal Plan will be finalised by the end of the 2020/21 financial year.”
Nzimande added that he will canvassing other departments such as Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Mineral Resources and Energy, Health, Trade and Industry and Competition, among others, to ensure that the Decadal Plan is consistent with other government master plans.
Minister Nzimande also expressed his excitement about the department of science and innovation (DSI)’s third consecutive clean audit for the financial year 2019/20.
This is the third year running that the Auditor-General delivered an unqualified audit opinion without any findings on the DSI’s financial statements. An Audit Committee report expressed satisfaction with the manner in which the department had conducted its affairs.
According to Nzimande, the DSI achieved 87% or 40 out of 46, of its targets, with just six targets (13%) not achieved. He further noted the Auditor-General’s statement that the department should be recognised for adhering to best practice in its corporate and financial governance.
He also praised the DSI director-general, Dr Phil Mjwara for having scooped the annual Batho Pele Excellence Awards for Best Director-General of the Year, while the DSI was recognised as the Best Functioning National Department of the Year.