Iron Lady, Rushwaya – how the Zanu (PF) patronage system works (24-08-07)


Standfirst: Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) acting chief executive officer, Henrietta Rushwaya, has been a rising star in Zimbabwe for some time. ITAI DZAMARA uncovers her origins and her secret for success.

“The sky is the limit with Zanu (PF),” Rushwaya

has repeatedly boasted. An exploration of who she really is and her stunning exploits leaves no doubt as to what she means.
Born to peasant parents in Masvingo in 1968, Rushwaya witnessed the gruesome scenes of the liberation struggle as a young girl whose parents were involved in providing help and shelter to the freedom fighters. But it took many years after independence for the family to be recognized by the Zanu (PF) regime – when they approached the late Vice President Simon Muzenda and subsequently got a farm in the Midlands.
Rushwaya trained as a teacher at Morgenster Teachers College in Masvingo and practised for a couple of years. After a stint with the Sports and Recreation Commission she went to study sports management on a scholarship in Norway.
She returned in 2004 and, as Muzenda had died, she presented herself to Vice President Joseph Msika, the patron of ZIFA, and was asked to coordinate fund raising activities for the national soccer team, The Warriors.
“That became the turning point for Henrietta. Soon, she was telling us bigger things, such as that she was now working in the VP’s office as a principal director,” said a source very close to Rushwaya.
She allegedly claimed to work in Msika’s office, and to have CIO links. But an official at the Public Service Commission said: “She was never employed in any other government capacity after the teaching post.”
A CIO officer told The Zimbabwean: “She splashes money and pays us to be close to her. She is an ordinary person but our ever-presence on her makes her feared by people.”
Among the media fraternity, Rushwaya is know as “Iron Lady” and enjoys frequent, glowing coverage. Sources allege she pays a sports editor at one of the daily newspapers in foreign currency in return for unflinchingly positive coverage.
A board member at ZIFA says she pulls the strings unhindered “because on serious things she always refers to Msika’s directives or recommendations”.
When contacted for comment on all these issues, Rushwaya was evasive and tried to convince this writer that “people say all sorts of things about me”.
Investigations have led to the discovery of eight Zanu (PF) officials, as well as two businessmen who fell for her tactics.
Four of the victims spoke to this paper on condition of anonymity and confirmed how “the lady from VP Msika’s office” dealt with them.
“She approached me and said the VP had mentioned my name as a possible consideration for the position of deputy minister. She then offered to lobby on my behalf and that way we became close.”
Like the others, this deputy minister “bought drinks for Rushwaya” but in ways synonymous with the spending habits of Harare’s rich and famous.
Others were allegedly “helped” by Rushwaya to access loans and other forms of patronage from the regime and rewarded her for that. They alleged she had also been involved in buying and selling of cars and other commodities.
Rushwaya stayed at Crowne Plaza Monomotapa Hotel in Harare, spending more than Z$3 billion over a period of about 18 months and it is alleged that in addition to her “earnings” through misrepresenting Msika’s office, Rushwaya also benefited personally from The Warriors fund-raising projects,
Now on her path into active political participation, Rushwaya scaled the first step when she made it into the Zanu (PF) Masvingo Provincial Youth leadership. She reportedly now eyes a parliamentary seat at next year’s elections and is splashing money towards that goal.
*Next week we will provide details of alleged misappropriation of funds for the national soccer teams, as well as how Rushwaya has allegedly been playing around with exchange rates and players’ winning bonuses to her immense benefit.

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