Growing up in the remote mountainous rural village of eNdlovini, in Keiskamma Hoek,
Eastern Cape, I never imagined I would represent my family, village and country in places like Central America.
This experience taught me that humble beginnings do not necessarily determine your career.
As part of my duties, I have served as the second ranking official at South African embassies or missions in Mexico and Madagascar.
A mission does everything it deems necessary to ensure the wellbeing of the state and also handles diplomatic relations with a foreign country. Its work is vibrant, dynamic and permanently unpredictable.
Many offi cials carry out responsibilities that are not in their work agreements Showcasing SA to the world.
This has nothing to do with poor planning, lack of vision or foresight of employees or their superiors, but because there are many unforeseen activities.
The work of a mission cannot be restricted to the function you are meant to do,
such as attending and taking notes in meetings; participating in trade fairs;
chairing staff meetings; developing programmes for visiting delegations; representing the country at official functions;
or receiving political principals on arrival at the airport and accompanying them to their meetings.
You have to learn to study the work ethic of heads of missions (HoM) and always consider the mission’s Annual Performance Plan (APP),
which has to be implemented with the instrumental involvement of the second ranking offi cial.
Besides monitoring the implementation of the APP, I have to provide counsel to the HoM and other colleagues about policy prescripts, covering a wide range of areas from political diplomacy, consular services,
and complaints from the public to personnel management matters such as misconduct, poor work ethic and morale.
I don’t think there’s any university or technical training institution that provides programmes on all of these scopes of work at once.
One has to pursue a number of diff erent academic programmes to acquire certifi ed skills in these areas.
However, in a mission there’s no time to pursue multiple degrees or diploma programmes at once.
Because I am trained in political and economic diplomacy or political economy, I have to spend time communicating with
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