Between April 1994 and November 2010, Vadi served as a Member of Parliament for the African National Congress (ANC). In the National Assembly, he had served on the Portfolio Committees on Education; Safety and Security; Public Service and Administration; Correctional Services; and the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence. He served as the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Communications; and in the Constitutional Assembly, he served as the Chairperson of the Theme Committee on Public Administration. He also served as Chairperson of the Ad-hoc Committee on the Special Report of the Public Protector on the then Deputy President Jacob Zuma.
Ismail Vadi was appointed as the Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Roads and Transport in November 2010, where he is currently serving following his reappointment on 23 May 2014.
As the Chairperson of Governance and Planning Cluster, Vadi is tasked with ensuring transformation of the state and governance, modernisation of the public service and decisive spatial transformation. In addition, he has been assigned to improve the mobility and accessibility of Gauteng citizens, particularly the poor, and to develop transport and socio-economic infrastructure that helps citizens to participate meaningfully in economic and social activities.
The vision of the Department of Roads and Transport is to develop integrated, sustainable infrastructure that promotes people-centred, innovative, developmental transport systems and an accessible, safe and affordable movement of people, goods and services.