Thandiswa Marawu was born of a working class family in the small town of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape. Her parents were peasants who suffered the oppression of working long hours but earning meagre salaries from the labour exploiters of the time.
Her background played an important role in shaping her as a political activist and her activism led to an unwarranted attention from the apartheid security forces. She was in and out of prison for fighting against apartheid and her parents became familiar with unannounced visits from the security forces.
Her parents decided to remove her from the attention of the security forces and sent her to undertake studies as a teacher at Masibulele College of Education in Whittlesea near Queenstown in 1984. Ironically, this served to propel her political activism as she became involved in student politics. She was amongst the pioneers who fought for the election of student representative councils in colleges of education to represent the interests of the students and to do away with the prefect system.
Having completed her studies in 1986 she started teaching in Ugie and that is where she further cut her political teeth. That was the year declared by the ANC President General Oliver Tambo as the year in which South Africa was to be made ungovernable. MEC Marawu initiated mass protests against the government and she also led frontally the rent boycotts against the municipality of Ugie. She was instrumental in the establishment of the ANCWL and ANC branches in Ugie and was amongst those who had the courage to lead the ANC under the threat of being annihilated by the apartheid regime.
Her dedication to the struggle against apartheid led her be noticed by higher structures of the ANC and she became the deputy chairperson of the ANC in Engcobo region. Due to her leadership qualities and rootedness amongst the people in her community she became the first democratically elected Mayor of Ugie in 1995. She was further elected as the Speaker of Joe Gqabi district municipality and later became the first female Executive Mayor to lead this municipality.
Currently she holds the positions of ANC provincial treasurer, provincial deputy chairperson of the ANCWL, and Joe Gqabi regional chairperson of the ANCWL. She was also the deputy chairperson of the South African Local Government Association in the Eastern Cape Province. She was appointed MEC for Road and Public Work in 2009, a portfolio she held until 2014. After the 2014 National Elections Premier Phumulo Masualle retained her in this portfolio. MEC Marawu has proven to be the true servant of the people and remains strongly attached to the ordinary people on the ground.