Ambassador Mr Xolisa Mabhongo

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Ambassador Mr Xolisa Mabhongo

Ambassador Xolisa Mabhongo serves as Non-Executive Director to the NECSA Board, representing the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO).

In April 2024, Ambassador Mabhongo was appointed as South Africa’s BRICS Sherpa. He also serves as the country’s G20 Sous-Sherpa.

He became Deputy Director-General (DDG) of Branch: Global Governance and Continental Agenda at South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation in August 2023. In this capacity, Ambassador Mabhongo serves as the Personal Representative (Sherpa) of the South African President on issues related to the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).


From May 2019 until July 2023, he served as Ambassador / Deputy Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations (UN) in New York.

From March 2016 until April 2019, he was the Representative of the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to the UN and Director of the Agency’s New York Office. 

For two years prior to that he served as Group Executive for Corporate Services at the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (NECSA) based in Pretoria.

Ambassador Mabhongo has served in several senior diplomatic positions both in South Africa and abroad.

From January 2010 to December 2013, he was South Africa’s Ambassador to Austria, Slovenia and Slovakia. During this time, he was also South Africa’s Permanent Representative to the UN and Other International Organisations in Vienna (IAEA, CTBTO, UNODC, UNOOSA, and UNIDO). He served as the Governor for South Africa in the Board of the International Atomic Energy Agency. He was elected President of the IAEA’s 57th General Conference in September 2013.

He has held other leadership positions in multilateral intergovernmental fora including Chairperson of the PrepCom of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT); Vice Chairperson of the IAEA Board of Governors; Chairperson of the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice; Chairperson of the UN Disarmament Commission. He has represented South Africa in many international meetings and conferences including as leader of delegation.

His diplomatic experience also includes a period as Chief Director for the United Nations Political Desk, (DIRCO) from 2006 to 2009. From 2001 to 2006 he was a Counsellor, then Minister Counsellor and Acting Deputy Permanent Representative of South Africa to the UN in New York. Before that he also served at South Africa’s Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva from 1999 to 2001.

Between 1995 and 1999 he held several positions at South Africa’s Foreign Ministry headquarters in Pretoria.

Ambassador Mabhongo holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Columbia University in New York, a Post Graduate Certificate in Diplomatic Studies from Oxford University in the United Kingdom and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Rhodes University in South Africa.

He was born in Mthatha, South Africa and is married with three children.

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