Dr Emmanuel Bonginkosi "Blade" Nzimande was born in Kwa-Dambuza, Pietermaritzburg, Natal (now kwaZulu-Natal) on 14 April 1958. In the 1980s, he was a member of progressive education organisations, including National Education Union of South Africa (NEUSA), Union of Democratic University Staff Associations (UDUSA) and the National Education Crisis Committee (NECC) and served in many NGOs supporting mass and labour struggles.
Nzimande joined the South African Communist Party (SACP) in 1988. He has held the position of the General Secretary of the SACP since July 1998. He is also a member of the African National Congress (ANC) National Executive Committee, a member of the ANC National Working Committee and the Chairperson of the Financial Sector Coalition Campaign (FSCC).
He obtained his PhD in Industrial Sociology from the University of Natal (now University of kwaZulu-Natal) in 1991 and is a qualified Industrial Psychologist. From 1994 to 1999, Dr Nzimande was a Member of Parliament and Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Education in South Africa’s first democratic parliament. He was, formerly, Director of the Education Policy Unit at the University of Natal from 1990 to 1994. Prior to that, he lectured in Industrial Psychology at the Universities of Zululand and Natal.
Dr Nzimande was appointed as the Minister for Higher Education and Training in the Republic of South Africa in May 2009.
In addition to serving on the Boards and committees of many organisations, Dr Nzimande has published numerous works related to his past research, namely: Education, Civil Society and the State, Affirmative Action, and Education Policy Development, and Socialism. He is also the author of a book entitled, Children of Wars: The impact of violence on schooling in Natal.