Ms Xingwana was a member of the Federation of South African Women from 1981 to 1991; a member of (ANCWL), Head of Development Section 1991 to 1994 and was a member of the United Democratic Front (UDF) from 1983 to 1991.
She has worked for the South African Council of Churches as Director for Women's Development Programmes in 1987.
She was a Chairperson of Sports, and Recreation Portfolio Committee from 1994 to 1999; a Chairperson of Malibongwe Rural Development Project for women from 1998 to 2000; a member of Gauteng Provincial Executive Committee of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1998 to 2001; a member of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Portfolio Committee from 1996 to 2004; a member of Defence Portfolio Committee from 1999 to 2004; a member of Minerals and Energy Portfolio Committee from 1999 to 2004 and a Chairperson of Parliamentary Women's Caucus from 1999 to 2004.
She has also served as a Chairperson of Joint Monitoring Committee on Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Women from 2002 to 2004; a Chairperson of Southern African Development Community (SADC) Regional Women's Caucus from 2002 to 2004; and Former member of National Executive Committee (NEC)of ANC from 1993 to 2007.
From 2004 to 2009, Ms Xingwana has served as a member of the Cabinet Committee on Investment and Employment; as a member of the Cabinet Committee on International Relations, Peace and Security; as a member of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Sector; as a Deputy Minister of Minerals and Energy from 2004 to 2006; as a Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs from 2006 to 2009 and as a Minister of Arts and Culture from 11 May 2009 to 30 October 2010.