Zak Essa

Position: Programme Analyst: Presidential Employment Stimulus
Institution: Presidency
Expertise: Development studies

After an honours degree in Economics from the University of Cape Town, I made my way down to the rural Eastern Cape to work at the Bulungula Incubator, an organisation committed to sustainably ending poverty in a generation. Living in Nqileni Village, I was surrounded by people who were committed to a better future for everyone in the region and to preserving strong social cohesion and vibrant community life. In 2021, I migrated northwards to study for a Masters in Development Studies at the University of Oxford where I aspired to build a toolkit to better understand the world's inequalities: I learned why politics matters, why history's ills linger long after liberation, and about the dangers of searching for silver bullet solutions to complex problems. While at Oxford I worked as a Research Assistant for the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative and was elected as a Global Leadership Initiative Fellow. I am currently supporting the Presidential Employment Stimulus - a large Public Employment programme coordinated through the Project Management Office in the Presidency - where I am particularly interested in understanding how Public Employment can build livelihood pathways out of poverty and its role in responding to the climate crisis.