There is a quote by Vaclav Havel that I often turn to: “Hope, in this deep and powerful sense … is an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed.”

Saul Musker



Organisation / Company

Private Office of the President of the Republic of South Africa


People are often surprised to hear how young the project management office team is in the presidency, says Saul Musker, 29, but they have learnt that change in the system is often driven by injecting new ideas and energy into the public service. As the director of strategy and delivery support, his job is to translate President Cyril Ramaphosa’s priorities into actionable strategies that produce rapid, concrete results for South Africans, especially in the areas of aiding economic growth, job creation and the country’s transition to renewable energy. It’s a huge responsibility, but Saul is motivated by knowing that what he does really matters. His team has been able to do what seemed impossible, such as getting the Social Relief of Distress grant to millions in just a few weeks, when Covid struck. He believes that the greatest challenges of his generation are inequality and climate change, but also that young people are the most innovative in South Africa’s history. As new technologies disrupt old patterns, governments must be more agile to respond to change, and his hope is that more talented youth enter public service to help address this challenge.


BA (Honours) in International Relations, English and French, University of the Witwatersrand
MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy and Master of Public Policy (as a Rhodes Scholar), Oxford University


I am especially proud of the work we have done through Operation Vulindlela, which is a joint initiative of the presidency and national treasury to accelerate the implementation of economic reforms. Since President Cyril Ramaphosa announced its establishment in October 2020, we have made significant progress in reforming our energy, logistics, water and telecommunications sectors, as well as the visa system. These are the binding constraints which have held back economic growth for the past 15 years, and which we need to address in order to grow the economy and create jobs.
Much of my work has focused on energy, where I was involved in developing the Energy Action Plan as a clear, focused plan to end load-shedding. We have been able to implement reforms to open the energy sector to private investment for the first time, support the rollout of rooftop solar, and establish a competitive market for electricity, which will radically change the way that our energy system works.
People are often surprised to hear how young our team is, but if there is one lesson we have learned, it is that it is possible to drive change in the system by injecting new energy, new ideas and new dynamism in the public service.


I was fortunate to grow up in South Africa’s progressive Jewish community, which has produced many people — from Joe Slovo to Helen Joseph and Arthur Chaskalson — who fought against apartheid and have contributed to democracy in South Africa. This community has taught me the importance of sticking to your principles and of standing up to injustice wherever it occurs, even when it means going against the majority.