South African Public Servant
Ministerial Adviser to Minister Public Enterprises
Ministerial Adviser to Minister Public Service
Daniel Plaatjies was born in Bonteheuwel, Cape Town on May 21, 1963. He obtained his first degree, BA in Social Work from the University of the Western Cape, followed by an Honours degree in social science from the University of Cape Town. He received his Master’s in philosophy (MPhil) from the University of the Western Cape and a Ph.D. in Governance, Public Policy and Public Finance from Wits University in Johannesburg.
Daniel is described by many as a passionate and committed man who came from humble beginnings but always saw the bigger picture. He was especially passionate about the future inheritance of a liberated, free, and democratic South Africa and created a platform for new ideas in order to sustain this freedom. He dedicated his life to serving the people.
Earning himself titles like “public servant of the people” and “son of South Africa” amongst his friends and colleagues, Daniel in this way was not only recognised for his contribution to the development of South Africa’s economy but also honored for sharing his skills and knowledge in the field of Early Childhood Development, academia and various international governmental platforms.
He was a “brother” to many, but more importantly a loving husband to Lydia and a consummate father to his three daughters, Leandré, Danelle, and Lidian who will remember him as their heroic and conscientious role model.
Speak Truth to Power
Key Quality of a Servant Leader
Prof. Daniel Plaatjies
Daniel’s vision was to find the best version of leadership that serves the people of South Africa. He has been described as a public servant who “persistently spoke truth to power”, despite the possibility of being ignored for what he believed in. As the chairperson of the Financial and Fiscal Commission, Daniel was adamant that municipalities should for example be funded adequately to ensure their financial and fiscal viability.
As a manager Daniel has been lauded for his commitment to the development and empowerment of his colleagues, his ability to listen and for his honesty and straightforwardness. He was often described as a “robust” leader who didn’t hesitate to share his insights, knowledge and disagreements with his co-workers. Others praised him for his strategic and consultative leadership, but more importantly his servant leadership style.
Daniel had a “let’s get it done” attitude towards his work, coupled with a commitment to bring about change in the lives of South Africans. His knowledge of government structures allowed him to channel new ideas towards sustainable social upliftment for all.
"Prof Plaatjies is described by his peers as an outstanding intellectual and a South African patriot who dedicated his life to the cause of social justice and non-racialism. Furthermore, he made a significant contribution to scholarship, even as he engaged actively in the creation of South Africa’s democracy." Dr. Sibongiseni Chair Portfolio Committee on Health
Our team shares Daniel's vision of inspiring more servant leaders
Daniel wanted to address the "growing lack of ethical leadership in the country [and] the abuse of political power and a lack of national leadership that has led to a yearning amongst citizens for a type of servant leadership where the wellbeing of the people is the key priority for those who lead.
Daniel’s vision was to start a servant dialogue series in which servant leadership is one pillar. Other pillars include citizens, the economy, the political nature of the state, the media and universities. The plan for the dialogue series is threefold: to produce a South African television documentary series based on interviews with several public, business and social figures across a wide spectrum. Secondly, this information and interview material will be used in a book on servant leadership in South Africa and Africa. The third part is the creation of a domestic and global dialogue on servant leadership from an African perspective.
The idea around this is to determine what a servant is and what a leader is. Daniel’s aim is to determine how different people have contributed to an understanding of servant leadership in the country. He wanted to address the "growing lack of ethical leadership in the country [and] the abuse of political power and a lack of national leadership that has led to a yearning amongst citizens for a type of servant leadership where the wellbeing of the people is the key priority for those who lead.
Daniel’s intent with the servant dialogue series is to shed light on how people used and abused their stature in South African society and ultimately contributed to the divide amongst citizens. Throughout this series on servant leadership, a number of leaders will provide their input, share their experiences and evaluate their service to the country. This will include leaders who have made their mark on the South African and African continent.
This biography of The Servant-Leadership is by and large based on attitudes, perceptions, feelings, and actions, a first of its kind in South Africa, also focusing on the DNA of leaders, leadership, and values of service to citizens embedded in the real context of work and societal interactions and relations. It is a mix of funny, light-hearted, soft, and personal; to hard issues of society today and a mix of roles filled over time by the identified leaders. It is also based on South African experience, knowledge, and relations of leaders with the whole of society, its institutions of the state and markets.
The great public benefits of this project to South African society and our continent are an outcome of context-based lessons on the complexities of leadership and management in changing political, economic and social circumstances in a transition society, thereby interconnecting the past, present and future; real and innovative experiential knowledge about the characterisation of leadership in the service of citizens from the business, social and political sectors; identification of tools and other forms of capabilities requisite to good quality servant-leadership such as values, norms and universal standards that are context-based and look towards achieving a harmonious society (social inclusion and cohesion); nature of leadership in a divided society and identification of key capabilities to overcome such divides; and lessons from leaders across political and state institutions (legislatures, executive and judiciary), social formations (religious organisations, not-for-profit and mass-based organisations), capital (corporations, etc).
"Prof Plaatjies always provided independent, professional and well-researched advice and opinion ... on matters of fiscal and economic importance, and that he did so regardless whether his views on the subject matter conformed with the popular narrative or not. His passing on is a big loss to the committee, Parliament and the people of South Africa.”
SFISO BUTHELEZI, STANDING COMMITTEE ON APPRECIATIONS