The second cohort of one hundred young public servant participants emerged from six months of demanding coaching and mentoring under the Emerging Leaders in the Public Service (ELIPS) programme when they received certificates of completion on Friday, 10, May 2024, in Tshwane, Gauteng province.

Coupled with a workshop on personal mastery the day before, the certificate awards ceremony marked the successful culmination of their coaching and mentoring journey under the guidance of coaches drawn from the Public Sector. In April of last year, the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) piloted the innovative ELIPS programme after identifying a gap in how young public servants are prepared for future leadership and management roles in the Public Service.

“We may not know the future, but a large part of ELIP’s objective is to act now to prepare young people for the future. When you are aware of your present situation, you are likely to work harder for the future that you want to see,” advised Ms Yoliswa Makhasi, the Director-General of the DPSA.

Just how their immersion in the ELIPS programme had positively impacted the lives of the participants was undisputable, as each reflected on their personal journeys. The word “personal empowerment” permeated most of the testimonies, with one participant stating that ELIPS aided in “dealing with people, especially dealing with yourself.” There was also an overall personal identification with the “Tintswalo” analogy that President Cyril Ramaphosa had used during the 2024 State of the Nation Address, as most of the participants likened the opportunity that ELIPS provided to the other social and economic benefits they have received since the dawn of democracy, either indirectly through the various grants or directly, through educational support, from no-fee-schooling to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.

“We came back as different people [at the end of the ELIPS programme], and let’s not allow fear to destroy our capabilities and abilities,” testified a participant from the Department of Justice.

Another participant, Nonhlakanipho Mbatha, from the KwaZulu-Natal provincial administration, shared how ELIPS had changed her views of government as a caring employer, saying that it has “lifted my spirit” and explaining that “sometimes people are too negative about the public service.”

The ELIPS programme aims to bridge the gap in public sector leadership by offering personalised coaching and mentoring to young public servants. This approach focuses on developing technical skills and leadership capabilities, with experienced coaches providing guidance and support. The programme includes five blocks of two-hour virtual sessions, covering areas such as leading self and personal mastery, which was the topic of the two-day workshop and certification awards ceremony.