Zanele was employed as a photographer and reporter for Behind the Mask, an online magazine on LGBTI issues in Africa. In 2002, she co-founded the Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW), a black lesbian organization dedicated to providing a safe space for women to meet and organize. She researched and documented the stories of hate crimes against the gay community in order to bring forth the realities of “curative rape”, assault, and HIV/AIDS, to public attention.
Zanele launched her visual activism through her first solo exhibition entitled 'Visual Sexuality: Only Half the Picture', at the Johannesburg Art Gallery in 2004. Her work is mostly about bringing visibility of queers in the black community. She has exhibited at the CCA Lagos in Nigeria, the Kunsthalle Wien Project Space in Vienna, Michael Stevensonin Cape Town, Le Case d’Arte in Milan, Fred Mann in London, and as part of the Afrovibes Festival in Amsterdam.
Her recent group exhibitions include: ...for those who live in it: Pop Culture, Politics and Strong Voices at MU Eindhoven, The Netherlands (2010); Bamako in Toronto, Toronto (2010); Undercover: Performing and Transforming Black Female Identities at Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta, USA (2009); and Life Less Ordinary: Performance and Display in South African Art at Djanogly Gallery, Nottingham, UK (2009). She was selected for the São Paulo Biennial in the fall of 2010.