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Day 7: God and your imagination

In discussing spiritual senses we established that we have what Paul calls the eyes of our understanding (dianoia), which I called the inner eye. And we will continue from there today. In using expressions like “the inner eye” I realise that although these are widely accepted in the vocabulary of the Christian prophetic community, some will take a bit of time to be comfortable with this kind of vocabulary. I would like to appeal to those who are a bit uncomfortable to not let the letters kill what the spirit is communicating to you through the use of such vocabulary. Instead, subject everything I write about to the scrutiny and authority of the written word of God.

Remember, God does not speak English, He speaks spirit. So whether we call something dunamis, energy, power, or anointing you have to be able to read beyond the words and the letters and tap into the spirit of what is being said. The bible says “for the letter kills but the spirit gives life” 2 Corinthians 3:6. In this new covenant we are in, we should not be consumed by the theology to a point where we are not able to walk in the revelation that the spirit of God avails to us.

In looking at the eyes of our understanding the Greek language tends to have many words that describe different kinds of thoughts. Some words distinguish between analytical thought, pictorial thought, and imaginative thought. We rely on the analytical thought which resides in our soul, to understand the word of God, how it applies to our lives, and how to present the gospel to others. And the dianoia is this part where creativity and imaginative thought are developed. In actual fact, the word also means to behold or to see and it takes us back to the imagination, which is characterised by seeing pictures. The point here is that God wants to use the imaginative part of our being.

Yesterday I asked you to count and tell me how many windows your house or apartment has. To do this, you do not just use the analytical thoughts to do the 1, 2, and 3 counting. You also use the imaginative part of your mind to formulate visuals of the whole house. So the eye of your spirit is working, what you need is to allow the Holy Spirit to use this part of your being to start hearing God. If you try to venture into this realm of imagination without the spirit of God, this is where you will start bumping into the area of psychics, of which God is clearly against.

In Leviticus 18:10-13 the bible says “For example, never sacrifice your son or daughter as a burnt offering. And do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD. It is because the other nations have done these detestable things that the LORD your God will drive them out ahead of you. But you must be blameless before the LORD your God.” So everything you do, even using your imagination should be empowered by the Holy Spirit, otherwise, it becomes perverted.

Daniel was a Chief Magician, meaning that he was able to do everything a magician or a fortune-teller could do and even more, to a point where he was their overseer. But he was different because everything he did was empowered by the spirit of God. And wherever those who ventured into these terrains without God had limitations, Daniel was able to demonstrate the unlimited ability of God. Listen to what the King says to Daniel (whom he called Belteshazzar) “O Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you and that no mystery is too difficult for you, tell me the visions of my dream that I saw and their interpretation.” Daniel 4:9

So we can all imagine as human beings, but when God begins to touch your imagination something supernatural begins to happen. Information, images, and ideas that are inaccessible with our human will, begin to flow from the spiritual realm into our soul and then our brains. You will realise as we go along that God uses the medium of visuals a lot to speak to us. 

Daniel said to the king, when the magicians and diviners could not tell him what he had dreamt “No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream and the visions of your head as you lay in bed are these” This can be found in Daniel 2:27-28.

Please read the whole of Chapter 2 to enjoy the full story of how Daniel was able to tell the King exactly what he dreamt and its interpretation. What a mighty God we serve! Not only was Daniel able to interpret dreams, but he was also able to have access to the same dream and visions of the king’s mind, by the spirit of God! If you study that text well, you will see that Daniel dreamt the same dream and had the same vision the King had, in order to interpret it. Where psychics and astrology could not have access, Daniel’s mind could have access. This God is still the same today. Our minds (dianoia) can still be used by God to reveal mysteries by the spirit of God! And hidden information and mysteries of the Kingdom of God can be made known to us.

And if you think this is something that was in the Old Testament, 1 Corinthians 2:16 says “Who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?” But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ” Imagine the implications of this scripture in your daily walk with God! You have the mind of Christ! Surrender your thoughts, imagination, and ideas to God and allow Him to use them!

I pray that you experience a shift in the way your imagination works. May God begin to touch the faculties of your mind and let new dreams, visions and ideas begin to flow into your life!

I feel like Day 7 has definitely started to shift us into the unfamiliar. But on this 7th Day of the 7th Month, God saw it fit for us to talk about perfecting our imagination! Let us see where the spirit leads us to on Day 8!

Day 6: Spiritual Senses

The number six is said to appear more than 148 times in the bible, and its symbolism is usually never positive. The number is usually used as a symbol of man’s weakness, evil or Satan, sin, and all things that lack perfection. You can look at the symbolism in how Adam who later exhibited weakness, was created on the sixth day, how the number of the Anti-Christ is six repeated 3 times, and how the flood ended the world when Noah was six hundred years old because of sin and disobedience. We will look at symbolism later when we study dreams. But this is a good place to start Day 6 because we are also gaining an understanding of how sin has affected our ability to hear from God, that is, our spiritual senses.

The body is the worker, the soul is the supervisor and the spirit is the executive. Before the fall, man (spirit) controlled the whole body through the soul but currently, for most Christians, the soul is very much in control and most of our hearing is through the ears of our body. We need a way to restore the order that God originally intended which was seen in the Garden, where man was able to hear God clearly.

If it is your spirit that hears from God, then it means to overcome the challenges related to hearing God we need to understand what these spiritual senses are and how to activate them. The apostle Paul prays in this manner in Ephesians 1:17-19 “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him; The eyes of your understanding be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” The spirit has eyes or senses so hearing God entails the usage of all these spiritual senses.

Your physical eyes differ from these eyes in that these inner eyes of your spirit are able to look into the spiritual realm. In Paul’s prayer, we are able to pick up that the apostle is praying for wisdom and revelation, then he prays that the eyes of their understanding be opened. The word dianoia has been translated as understanding. It denotes the eyes of your imagination. In the same way, your physical eyes can send images to your brain, your eyes of understanding can send images to your brain. The same word dianoia is used by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 22:37 when He said “Thou shalt Love the Lord thy God with all of thy heart, with all of thy soul and with all of thy mind (dianoia). This word specifically refers to the imagination part of our mind.

For your physical eyes to see something and transmit that image to your brain, they require light. In the same way, the eyes of your understanding also need light to see in the spirit and transmit that message to your soul. In the same way, that physical eyes can be hurt and damaged by foreign objects, your soul can be wounded by bitterness, grief, unforgiveness, and so on. When your soul is in this condition the eyes of your understanding will perceive nothing. This is why it is important to walk in love. Love can heal pain and grief, and it is important that you allow it to heal you, because those elements have the ability to create a distorted view of what God is saying to you.

Never aim to hear God with a wounded soul, with the lens of revenge, envy or intentions to take advantage of others, because the message will be distorted. Sadly, we see a lot of this happening in our time.

I am now getting ready to look at this eye in practical terms. To look into exactly which part of you is creating an actual image when I ask you how many windows are in your apartment or house right now. You can create an image and walk around the house, actually seeing the windows and counting them. That is a crucial foundation of where we are heading. Let us see where the Lord leads us to tomorrow. Love and light to you! Blessings!

Day 5: The Voice of the Spirit – Domination by the Spirit

In hearing the voice of God, you need to learn how to walk before you learn how to run. We looked at the fact that you walk in the spirit by walking in love and you fine-tune your hearing through immersing yourself in the word of God. The more of His word you hear, the easier it becomes to recognise His voice. These are all a part of foundational things you need to know and make a part of daily life before you can continuously hear what God is saying to you. I would also like you to appreciate these seemingly familiar principles from the bible in the context of the prophetic and hearing God. Because if you will retain the same lens through which you understood them before, you might get to the other end of the series and still not benefit from knowing those principles in hearing from God.

 The aim is to move from the familiar to the unfamiliar when it comes to hearing from God, hence we will revisit some of these topics with a fresh lens of the prophetic. Talking of the familiar, let us continue with our revisit of the three elements that make up a person, the spirit, soul, and body.

We established that your spirit is the God element in you. It is familiar with God and the things of the spirit, it is alive to God and is sensitive to God. When a person is not born again, it does not mean they do not have a spirit. They have an unregenerate spirit. They are spiritually dead, separated with God, and have no ability to perceive anything from God. Their intuition, which resides in their spirit, is insensitive to God. As you continue to walk in love, your spirit increasingly becomes dominant over your soul and body.

When you experience sleep paralysis as a born-again Christian, and you are in that state where you are conscious of your surroundings, but cannot scream or move, that is a classical example of when your body is dominant even though your spirit is alive. This error must be corrected! In this state even when God speaks to your spirit, it is so overshadowed by the carnal nature that you will not be able to hear Him. Your spirit needs to control the whole man. And this is only possible if you are born again.

The soul is also important because it is what stands between the spirit and the body. The spirit is not able to interact directly with the body it needs some kind of intermediary. And the soul, which came about as a result of the spirit touching the body fulfills this intermediary role. In order for the spirit to subdue the body, it uses the soul and in that way, the body is able to obey the will of God. We can then summarise all of this in this manner, the spirit receives revelations from God in its faculty we call the intuition, and the soul and body are there to execute the will of God that is being received by the spirit.

I am in a rush to start looking at the different voices or ways in which God speaks. But before that, on Day 6 we will continue looking at the human spirit and how it has senses or eyes. And once we have established that your spirit has senses, it will then make sense when we talk about the different voices. I hope you are as excited about receiving that information with the same intensity of joy I have in writing these. Wishing you Love and Light on Day 5! God bless you!

Day 4: The Voice of the Spirit – The spirit and the soul.

It has become very apparent to me whilst engaging with those who are following this series that there is a general confusion in distinguishing between the spirit and the soul. And as a result, instead of walking in the spirit, they remain in a soulish realm.

I was also surprised when I realised that some think the spirit and the soul are the same things, and as a result, they use the words interchangeably. This confusion between what the soul and spirit are has resulted in most Christians being spiritually deaf. So as we look at the voice of the spirit today and the practical elements of walking in love (i.e. walking in the spirit) it is important that we distinguish between the spirit and the soul.

In the book of 1 Thessalonians 5:23 the bible says “May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” It is apparent from this text that a whole person is divided into three parts. What is also apparent is the fact that Paul distinguishes between the spirit and the soul. Otherwise, Paul could have said spirit and body or soul and body, but he distinguishes between spirit and soul, resulting in three distinct parts in which a person is divided instead of just two.

The word of God has an ability to separate between the spirit and the soul. You can look at Hebrews 4:12. If the Word of God makes it a point to separate the spirit and the soul then it means it is important for us to know how to distinguish between the two. To know what God is saying you need to be able to distinguish between the two otherwise you will never know what is coming from your soul and what is coming from your spirit. This is an area that a lot of people struggle with. “Are these just my thoughts, or is this God saying something to me?”

When God created Adam from the dust of the ground, He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul. This can be found in Genesis 2:7. The breath of life became the spirit of the man when it came into contact with the body the soul was also produced. Hence man became a living soul. The bible talks of only two elements initially, the spirit (the breath of life) and the body. But when the spirit touched the body a soul was produced. Make sense?

Before I retire that point, we must also not confuse the Holy Spirit with our spirit. The apostle clears this potential confusion out in the book of Romans 8:16 when He says “The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” Your human spirit is sensitive to God because it came to God and is sensitive to Him. It is that element of your being that can fellowship with God, can understand Him, and worship Him. Your soul would be the realm of your emotions, memories and thoughts. They also have their importance, but in that soulish realm you cannot reach the spiritual realm and you will not hear the voice of God.

Your spirit can rejoice, grieve, anticipate, love, decide, and discern. When these emotions are sensed in the spirit, they are quite distinct from those felt in the soul or those expressed by the body. Luke 1:46 says “And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my saviour” This is the type of joy that stems from the spirit, not the soul. It comes from your innermost part called your conscience and is capable of experiencing emotions that have nothing to do with your soul. The senses of your soul are usually caused by external things like events or people. But the senses of your spirit are activated by the Holy Spirit.

This is the reason why a Christian is able to have “peace that surpasses all understanding” in the midst of chaos, it is because the peace does not stem from the soul. It stems from your spirit. And if you start paying attention to the source of your emotions or feelings, you will start learning to distinguish whether they come from the inner man or the outer man. When you can do this you will hear from God.

The things of the spirit will be foolish to the carnal man, but the spirit is very sensitive to the things of the spirit. So things that God says to you, that your soul might easily dismiss as meaningless and foolish, your spirit has the ability to apprehend them.

Let me conclude Day 4 by this question for the sake of conciseness “How do you fine-tune your spirit to be able to perceive spiritual things then?” And then tomorrow we will continue from here regarding the outstanding points of discussion.

The answer to how to fine-tune your perception of spiritual things, including hearing the voice of God, is this “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple” Psalm 119:130.  Hearing more of the word of God makes you sensitive to spiritual things and it fine-tunes your “God-frequency” In practical terms, this means listening to a lot of teachings on the Word of God, reading, and studying a lot of the Word. And for those who desire to prophesy, it entails listening to others prophesying and sharing the spoken word of God.

I have personally listened to someone prophesy almost every day of my life since I was 12 years old. It has made a huge difference in my ability to hear God and communicate His mind to others. By doing these you will sharpen your hearing and be more sensitive to the spirit. I am not saying this is the only way to go about it, but this is what has worked for me.

We will continue from here on Day 5. Love and light to you. Shalom!

Day 3: Walking in the Spirit

Perhaps you are wondering what being in the spirit has to do with hearing from God? When we looked at what to do when God is not talking it became clear that we need to adjust our hearing because God, who is Spirit, is always talking even though we do not always hear Him. And what I meant by adjusting our hearing was that you needed to move from not being in the spirit to being in the spirit.

A lot of people are trying to hear God with their physical ears, and they are failing dismally. Perhaps you are also waiting for some thunderous voice from heaven. However you are a spirit, you possess a soul and you live in a body. The spirit, which is the actual you and is looking through those eyes right now, is the one that hears God who is also spirit.

You need to hear through the ears of that spirit individual and see through their eyes, not those of the vehicle that is carrying them around. Your body is here to give your spirit legal access to the earth realm. Without your body, your spirit would be illegal in this realm. So in hearing God, do not expect a thunderous voice from outside expect a still voice from within you because it is your spirit that hears God.

As a born-again Christian, you should be surprised when you come out of the spirit realm, not when you enter because this is your new nature. But unfortunately, a lot of us are the opposite, we find ourselves being very surprised when we enter the spirit realm. It is possible to be born again and still live as if you are not alive in God. Paul writes a letter appealing to the Galatians and says “If we live by the spirit, let us also walk by the spirit” Galatians 5:25. You would have thought walking in the spirit is automatic, but according to Paul, it is not. The Galatians were born-again, so they were living by the spirit, but they were not walking by the spirit.

In defining WHAT walking in the spirit means you will realise that I would have also explained HOW to walk in the spirit. Hold on to your seat because it is not as ‘deep’ as you would have imagined. In fact, I am certain you will be shocked by how simple it is.

Paul broke down ‘walking in the spirit’ in this way “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against such there is no law” Galatians 5:22. Notice how the bible says FRUIT and not FRUITS. There is only one fruit of the spirit and that is love. I know many have been taught there are many fruits of the spirit, but please read that bit again and see. He only speaks of one fruit, the rest are the attributes of that one fruit that is love.

So when you walk in the spirit there is only one fruit we ought to see in your life and Paul calls it love. So the fruit of the spirit is manifested in all those other attributes that Paul lists like gentleness, long-suffering, etc. And when you do not see them in you, know that you are not walking in the spirit. Maybe some are still not convinced.

In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Paul says “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not [a]puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, [b]thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Paul is telling us here that long-suffering, peace, joy, gentleness, etc. are all inside of love. So when the bible talks about the fruit of the spirit, there is only one, and that is Love.

To master walking in the spirit you need to do one thing, and that is to walk in love. When you are walking in love you do not need to think about whether you are being gentle, good, etc. because all of those are encapsulated in love. If you are born-again then love should come naturally to you, you need to yield yourself to it and walk in it, which is synonymous with walking in the spirit. I did say it will be simple! And it is this simple! When you walk in love, hearing God is easy.

No Christian can say “I cannot walk in love” the bible says “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given us” Romans 5:5. God has already given you everything you need to walk in the spirit and hear His voice. His love has been shed abroad in your heart. You are able to walk in love because He has placed His love in you.

1 John 4:8 says “He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love” The only word in the bible used to describe what God is made up of is love. So when you walk in love, you are walking in the realm of God. You are immersed in His true nature, experiencing the god-kind-of-life and therefore hearing his voice clearly. I hope you see that to know God, relate with Him, and be in the same realm He is in, you need to walk in love. It is impossible to participate in His divine nature outside of Love!

On Day 4 I want us to look into what walking in love looks like practically. We will also look at the different ways in which God speaks. Love and blessings to you, shalom!

Day 2: What to do when God is not talking?

There are times when you might feel like God is not saying anything to you. It could be that at this very moment you are not hearing God say anything to you. And your biggest question is “Prince what do I do when God is not talking?”

Do you know what I do when God is not talking? I adjust my hearing. I adjust my hearing because I know that God is ALWAYS saying something to us. It would mean, just like on a radio device, I need to adjust my ‘frequency’. At this point I know what you are thinking “No, Prince that is too simplistic. Surely there’s more to it” To be honest, there is more to it. But it gets even simpler.

When it comes to you hearing God, He is not trying to play hide and seek with you. He is not on a mission to be inaccessible, and only accessible to a few. Whoever wants you to believe that, is a cult leader waiting to happen. God says “My sheep hear my voice” John 10:27. So the basic criteria for hearing God is to become His own. I think that gives all of us DP (you know, that entrance exam mark). And if you are still not convinced Joel 2 says “In the last days I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, you sons and daughters will prophesy…” Joel 2:28. So if you have the Holy Spirit in you, as a statement of fact, you are able to hear from God and then deliver that message. And guess what? Your gender is not a barrier! (I had to put that in there!)

That should settle the doubt you might have had of whether you can hear from God or not. Or whether you qualify or not. The bible is clear, every Christian is able to hear from God. This takes us back to issue of why it is then you are not able to hear God? “The Spirit is the One who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” John 6:63

If the Words that God speaks are spirit, then it means you can only hear them when you are sensitive to the spiritual. When a bird chirps, other birds are able to make sense of the chirping because they are sensitive to the chirping. In that same way, even though God is always speaking, it might all be meaningless to you because you are trying to hear Him from outside of the realm in which He is speaking. Makes sense?

The good news here is that we do not have to learn the language God speaks. He does not speak English or some other man made language. He speaks Spirit. All we have to do is to be in the Spirit to hear and understand the words spoken by God.

John says, “I was in the spirit on the Lord’s Day and THEN I heard.” Revelation 1:10. His ability to hear God was dependant on Him being in the Spirit. The same really applies to you.  The reason you are not hearing Him is because you are in one realm trying to hear Him from another.

Even if He spoke in English or Xitsonga, if you are not in the spirit, you would still not hear Him. John 8:43 records the Lord Jesus saying “Why don’t you understand the language I use? Is it because you can’t understand the words I use?” So it is not really a language barrier per se, it is a realm issue. So now that we are here, I hope you see why I eased into this. To “adjust your hearing”, simply means moving from not being in the spirit to being in the spirit. So to hear God you need to be in the Spirit, that is the answer.

On Day 3, I want us to then look at WHAT it means to be in the spirit and HOW to be in the Spirit.

Thank you so much for reading, and God bless you. Meditate on this today, see you tomorrow!

4 things I think you should know about leading a systems development team in the South African public sector

My goal with this article is to share nuggets from my own experience and not add unnecessary complexity or oversimplify the issue of managing or being part of systems development teams in general (besides, there is a lot of that online already). Are you ready?

1.  Know how to build a business case, I mean it

This might seem like an obvious one, however with the competing priorities of government all looking for a piece of that budget, you have to make a good case for your project or it will never see the light of day. It will never be easy trying to argue for a server over a school feeding scheme because that is how those in office really look at things (understandably so).

They link money spent, to an actual outcome that impacts people’s lives. If you are not able to demonstrate how that piece of technology your team is trying to implement will add value and assist in service delivery, you have already put your team at a disadvantage. Move away from the tech jargon and learn to speak the language of service delivery. Learn to demonstrate in a very practical way, how the proposed project will add value to the pursuit of excellent service delivery.

For example, show how the extra storage capacity on your servers will reduce the incidents of “our systems are off-line” in a department or municipality. While I am on this, let me say that this is the era where “our systems are off-line” should never be heard from any public institution.

To get to that point though, you need to implement relevant technologies timeously, not be afraid of pilot or proof of concept projects and ensure your maintenance plan is on point. These will only come about if you know how to build a solid business case that makes budgetary and service delivery sense.

2.  You will often be technologically behind, face it

Let’s all face it, ICT in the public sector does not enjoy the luxury of research and development budgets. This often means public sector ICT every so often lags behind technologically relative to the private sector. Not all hope is lost nonetheless because there is still the option of free open source software (FOSS) which has been a topic of so many seminars and a viable solution in so many ICT conference resolutions. Albeit admittedly not without controversies, security stigmas and a bucket load of misconceptions.

All debates aside, the actuality is that there is a current Policy on Free and Open Source Software Use for the South African Government which was published in August of 2006 which enforces FOSS in government. It states that “the South African Government will implement FOSS unless proprietary software is demonstrated to be significantly superior. Whenever the advantages of FOSS and proprietary software are comparable FOSS will be implemented when choosing a software solution for a new project. Whenever FOSS is not implemented, then reasons must be provided in order to justify the implementation of proprietary software.”

Based on that policy it is clear that policymakers were signaling to ICT units in government to start looking at solutions that do not cost the government an arm and a leg. In order to successfully manage a systems development team in the public sector, you need to face this reality of technological lag and ensure that you always do your research on FOSS solutions. Establish a small research team within your own team that will experiment and test freely available tech solutions.

You cannot make budget constraints an excuse for technological lag because they will always be a permanent feature of any systems development team in government. Don’t succumb to this reality, find a way!

3.  Choose a technology stack with the future in mind

There is a stark difference between why a startup company would choose a technology stack and why a public sector ICT team would do so. For startups, getting to market is more important than having the perfect technology powering it. They mainly need to focus on their business and marketing rather than having all the technology pre-optimization necessary to handle the number of users Twitter or Facebook has for example.

On the other hand, in the public sector, things are different and the decision on which tech stack to choose will be highly debated in any case – so many people in your organisation need to be comfortable with the decision. The management (and hopefully the in-house / prospective developers) are probably the most important stakeholders to have on board, hence you need to choose your technology stack with the future in mind.

Here are some of the considerations to make in order to choose a future-friendly technology stack:

Go agile and keep it simple!

Whenever you want to build products from scratch, the best option is to go with the easiest solution. Choose a solution that is simple to learn and easy to scale. Do not lock yourself into technologies that make it difficult to adjust to technological advancements or are just painful to learn.

Keep the public sector problem space in mind

The technology you choose should depend on the problems you anticipate you will solve on a regular basis. Most government problems, at least in my experience, are process automation problems as opposed to computational and statistical ones. It would thus make sense to choose languages like C# and Java as your primary languages as opposed to python which is more ideal for computation and statistics.

Put your users before technology

Your solutions will ultimately be used by people, put them first in your mind before you choose technologies. Ask yourself questions such as: how can you create the best user experience? Who will be using your system? Will they work on desktops or tablets? Will they access things through a mobile connection (as more than 60% of all users currently do)? Should there be a desktop-style application? What browsers will be used most often?

Performance and Speed

There is no use investing in a Ferrari when you are banished to a town with 60km/h speed limit. Will the software be running on your intranet? If so, initial loading times could be less than optimal depending on how your connectivity is configured. Always think about your “SITA” situation before you commit to any technology.

Migrations and legacy systems

Legacy systems are a common feature in the public sector, always make considerations and evaluate whether you will be able to migrate your databases or data with the prospective technology or if it will be compatible with all the relevant legacy systems.

As I wrote this list, it dawned upon me that I was risking writing extensively about all these important considerations, which would make this article too long. The good news is that a more extensive list of considerations to make when choosing a technology stack will follow in a subsequent article – in the interest of conciseness.

4.  Be agile, be on time and deliver what you promised

The founder of the Global Business Network and well known editor of the Whole Earth Catalogue, on one occasion said “Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road” That is to say, those who are well prepared for changes that require technological adaptation and move swiftly in response, will never be casualties of those changes.

It is a disadvantage if your systems development team is reactive to change as opposed to being pro-active. A team that anticipates changes and builds its whole strategy around being agile will often succeed in delivering solutions on time.

If the tools or methodologies you are using do not allow you to immediately adapt when policies or other requirements change, your team needs to make an intentional decision to mend this. The quick win here is to choose a systems development methodology which allows you to be flexible such as SCRUM and choose technologies which are friendly to an agile methodology such as Microsoft’s SharePoint, Alfresco, ASP.NET MVC or other RAD software just to name a few.

Much like the private sector, public sector problems require solutions with quick turnaround times, systems development teams that are agile and solutions that meet their needs. For this reason, be agile, be on time and deliver what you promised!


I wish I could tell you that if you knew these four things you are guaranteed success! But the reality is that managing or being part of a systems development team, in the public sector more especially – requires much more.

Knowing how to build a business case, finding a way around technological lags and adopting a future-oriented approach when choosing technologies are very important. On the same breath, it is also important for systems development teams to be agile, on time and deliver a solution that works! (It will make a huge difference on your next project!)

Although these fours things are not the golden bullet, the good news is that intentionally working on them, although you might already know them, allows you to evaluate where your team currently stands and highlights areas that need to be improved.

Is GovTech Dead?

FinTech, EduTech and a lot of other something-Techs are definitely alive, no postmortem needed there. But it is concerning that we cannot say the same with confidence about governance related technologies.  Apart from a pothole or complaint reporting app here and a services payment app there, it appears there is not much happening in that space. This is what made me wonder as I downed my coffee one afternoon after work, whether GovTech, also known as e-government is dead or alive.

There is disruption everywhere but not so much in government.  Innovation in government seems to be taking a nap at a time when players in other sectors can barely afford to blink. Perhaps a look at what usually drives innovation in a particular industry is necessary. Usually innovation is driven by business needs in an area. Tech-innovation is a good follower of Rands and Dollars. It goes where the money goes. It is unfortunate that the biggest consumer in most provinces in South Africa is the provincial government. This means that technological innovation tends to evolve around the present needs of provincial governments, which is not always the best thing.

The unavoidable consequence of competing financial priorities is that certain government programs can go without proper resourcing for years. Which means that the technological needs of a provincial government today, could only be met in 5 or 10 years’ time. This lag often translates into technological retardation. Even the most tech-savvy ICT teams are not immune to the legacy systems syndrome. They have one foot in the past, because of all the legacy systems, and a toe in the future, thanks to a few futuristic affordable technologies their budgets could afford them. Accordingly, it is not easy to just leap into the present. This combination of legacy systems and thin budgets, makes it even more difficult to experiment with futuristic technologies, a necessary component for innovating.

This notion of the effects of competing financial priorities on innovation is nothing inventive, it has been explored before. What is often not clear is: what are the low hanging fruits around this issue, which could breathe life into GovTech once more.

I do not see a political leader approving a big-data project over a township revitalization project at any moment, hence I would rate that if gov-innovation initiatives are to take off in such financial contexts, they would have to be as financially nominal as possible. So the first low hanging fruit is dealing with unfair pricing practices by the business community selling innovative tech-products and services to the government. This prevalent imposition of technologies originating from the business sector at a hefty premium would need to stop being looked at as innovation or some kind of leap forward. And be looked at as the enemy of progress it is.

As things stand, the business community looks at government as a cash cow. The same laptop you can buy for R10 000 at a mall, usually ends up costing twice the amount when government is the client. I call it the government inflation. The bidding process is usually fair for those who bid, but the government is usually dealt the short-end of the stick.  If everyone will charge a minimum of R15 000 for a laptop that retails for R10 000 for example, the process for choosing who eventually gets to supply the government, in an ideal situation, is fair to the bidders. However in retrospect, the government is the loser in this whole ordeal. It should not be paying such hefty premiums purely because it is government. As long as this unfair pricing practice prevails, ICT teams in government should make peace with the fact that most innovative products coming on the market will always be beyond their budgets.

Some of the best innovative solutions to government problems come from within government itself. A system called Reapatala by the Department of Public Works which ensures that invoices are settled within 30 days, is one good example. The main issue is that from a systems development perspective a lot of the government processes are not well documented, which translates into challenges not being well defined. This is understandable because traditionally government ICT teams do not have business analysts or anyone unambiguously responsible for modelling business processes. I submit that a lot of opportunities for innovation will present themselves when government business processes begin to be modelled and its challenges will become clear. This is a quick win which would only entail dedicating a knowledgeable member of the team to business process modelling or reskilling them because the business analysis learning curve is not that steep.

Innovation in government and its challenges are a very complex point of discussion documented abundantly in journal articles. I dived into writing this entry knowing very well that it was inevitable that I would not be able to cover all the issues and I intend on writing another one during my next ‘after-coffee-moment’. However, like a miniskirt, I hope I was able to make it short enough keep you interested but long enough to cover all the key issues. As a final point, I would say GovTech is not dead it is just sleeping and perhaps 2018 is the year when it will fully awaken!

Hacking humans: Why your Facebook account will probably get hacked.

Your Facebook account will probably get hacked and it will not be Facebook’s fault. The reality is that human beings are the weakest link when it comes to securing information. Information security technology has reached a point where you can manage it’s associated risks, but people’s behavior and attitudes are becoming increasingly complex to manage.

The modern hacker does not attempt to outright ‘crack’ your password, or gain access into your system using some kind of backdoor. They know that modern technologies would easily detect this and enable you to prevent future breaches. On the contrary the modern hacker wants to access the system as you. This would give them long-term access as opposed to a one-time ‘fix’.

This is the general modus operandi on any system that is of interest to the hacker, I have just chosen Facebook because that is where a majority of  South Africans spend their time online.

Usually a hacker will hack your account when they have a MOM (not that mom). MOM is a common acronym in information security for Motive, Opportunity and Method. An ex or insecure lover for example, would probably have a Motive to access your account without you knowing over a period of time. Additionally, they would need an opportunity to do so and a Method that works such as guessing your password.

Celebrities often conveniently claim their accounts were hacked after some private media is leaked on their accounts. Often times what they mean is that THEY were hacked because the technology behind the platform itself is almost unbreachable. Let’s look at it this way.

1. You login to your Account at an internet cafe or another device that’s not yours, like the library, lab computer, or a friend’s phone and you forget to log-out (What do you anticipate is going to happen?)

2. You login through a browser, the browser asks if you want it to store the password, You Click “Remember” (What would you guess is going to happen?)

3. Your password is too easy NAME1993, FAVOURITEPHRASE123, GIRLFRIEND2016 (What do you reckon is going to happen if someone that knows you (or has studied you) starts guessing your password?).

The modern hacker has realised the robotic and resilient nature of technologies and has turned their efforts to the more gullible YOU. There are reports online where female hackers called their victims and pretended to be their girlfriends on the phone and asked for their login credentials!  As things stand, YOU are your biggest threat to your information’s security online.



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