Thembelani Nxesi

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The Honourable
Thembelani Thulas Nxesi
Minister of Sport and Recreation
Assumed office
31 March 2017
President Jacob Zuma
Preceded by Fikile Mbalula
Minister of Public Works[1]
In office
24 October 2011 – 31 March 2017
President Jacob Zuma
Preceded by Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde
Succeeded by Nkosinathi Nhleko
Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform
In office
1 November 2010 – 24 October 2011
President Jacob Zuma
Personal details
Born (1959-01-01) 1 January 1959 (age 59)
Matatiele, Eastern Cape
Nationality South Africa South African
Political party African National Congress
Alma mater University of Fort Hare
University of the Witswatersrand
University of South Africa

Thembelani Waltermade "Thulas" Nxesi (born 1 January 1959) is a South African politician. A member of the African National Congress, he is the Minister of Sports and Recreation and previously served as Minister of Public Works and Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform.[2]


Mr Nxesi holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Fort Hare obtained in 1983; a Bachelor of Education degree from Witwatersrand University and a Higher Diploma in Education from the University of South Africa (UNISA).[3]


His political career began as a student activist and leader in the UDF-aligned SANSCO (South African National Student Congress) and its predecessor, AZASO (Azanian Students Organisation).

In 1985 he took up a teaching position in Tembisa, Gauteng at the Ikusasa Senior Secondary School, where he headed the Social Studies department from 1985 until 1990. Additionally, he was a founder member and national leader of NEUSA (National Education Union of South Africa). In 1990 he was elected Assistant General Secretary of the newly formed SADTU (South African Democratic Teachers Union), and in 1995 became General Secretary, a position he held until 2009. During this period, SADTU grew in membership from 30,000 to a quarter of a million.

During this time he was increasingly active in Education International (EI) – with 30 million affiliated members worldwide; and served as President from 2004-9, when he was also a member of the Global Unions Council.

In 2009, the Minister was released by SADTU and COSATU to apply to stand for election to Parliament on the ANC list. As a Member of Parliament, he served as Chair of the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation, during which time he participated in several study tours and overseas missions focusing on human rights.

In November 2010, the President appointed him to the post of Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, where he was given responsibilities including: restitution claims, gender issues, HRD and communications. A year later, in October 2011, the President appointed him Minister of Public Works.[4]

In March 2017 he was appointed Minister of Sport. He named his top priorities as the acceleration of transformation and the revival of school sport in the country. He also promised to build on the work that his predecessors, namely Steve Tshwete and Fikile Mbalula, had started.[5]

He was denied visa by Israel in 2012.[6]