Dr Phethiwe Matutu

Dr Phethiwe Matutu

Dr Phethiwe Matutu has a PhD in Mathematics from the University of Cape Town (UCT) and she currently holds the position of Group Executive: Strategy, Planning and Partnerships at the National Research Foundation (NRF).

At the NRF, Dr Matutu has overseen the successful creation of the Strategy, Planning and Partnerships Division to inform and lead the development of organisational strategy; leverage additionality; and be a reliable and authoritative source of organisational and system intelligence. She has successfully driven the formulation of the organisational strategy as the NRF reviewed its strategic direction for the next ten years, culminating in the attainment of Vision 2030. She has led the conceptualisation of a Research and Development Information Platform for R&D data for the National System of Innovation. She oversees the management of key strategic partnerships that are instrumental in leveraging knowledge, human, and financial resources from partners. 

At the former Department of Science and Technology, Dr Matutu’s role as Chief director: Human Capital and Science Promotion was oversight of human capital development (HCD)-related entities, the drafting of legislation, guiding documents and the implementation of HCD and Science Promotion programmes. She was instrumental in submission and motivation of National Treasury bids that led to awarding of R600 million towards postgraduate studies and research grants. During this period, the science system saw remarkable growth of flagship programmes such as the South African Research Chairs Initiative and Centres of Excellence. She successfully led the development of strategic documents in research priority areas of Government, science promotion, and human capacity development leading to transformative change and maximising research impact.

Dr Matutu has served as a member of numerous Boards, Councils and Task Teams. She served in the Human Resource Development Council of South Africa (HRDC-SA) under the leadership of the Deputy President of South Africa,  was a Ministerial appointee in the Council of Walter Sisulu University, was a member of a Ministerial Task Team responsible for drafting the Implementation Plan of the White Paper on Post-School Education and Training; is a member of the Department of Higher Education and Training Creative Outputs Reviews Panel, and serves in the Advisory Board of National Graduate Academy of Mathematics and Statistics. She has also served in various international committees, including the SA-USA Fulbright Commission and the Steering Committee of the French South African Technical Institute in Electronics.

Dr Matutu has extensive experience in driving policy development and planning, research performance and management, human capacity development, science promotion, stakeholder engagement, resource mobilisation, oversight of information systems, monitoring and evaluation, and change management. Dr Matutu’s leadership abilities, planning and organising skills, financial skills, communication skills, negotiation skills, as well as managing large teams, responsible for multi-million-rand budgets have all been demonstrated during her tenure at the DST and the NRF. The underlying intent of all the above has been to advance transformation and impact within the science sector.