SHE is known as the Iron Lady of Zimbabwean football on account of her iron-fisted approach to issues, the instrument of her rise to the apex of a male-dominated field.
A former primary school teacher in Masvingo, Rushwaya’s interest in football might have started during her student days in Norway.
It so happened that at the time, the Norwegians would invite Zimbabwean youth teams to participate in junior tournaments. Rushwaya would then send regular updates to a local daily on proceedings in that country.
Upon returning home, her first major assignment was as the energetic spokesperson for the Warriors Trust Fund, a fund-raising committee set up to source donations for the Zimbabwe national team’s first-ever African Nations Cup in Tunisia in 2004.
From there things moved so fast.
The surprise appointment to the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) chief executive post followed when Jonathan Mashingaidze was fired in 2006 after a World Cup ticket scandal.
Rushwaya’s first brush with the law was in November 2007, when she was arrested and appeared in court on allegations of theft involving US$2 400.
While on bail, she allegedly tried to persuade an official from Legea (a Belgian firm which supplies kit to the Warriors) into tampering with documents which would have exonerated her of the theft charge.
She came under heavy pressure to resign, but refused to do so.
“I cannot be resigning because of mere allegations,” she was quoted as saying. “It is business as usual on my part until such a time as the courts have made their final determination on the case.”
Things got more interesting in 2008 when she expressed a desire for political office. She announced her intention to represent Zanu PF in the disputed harmonised elections as a parliamentary candidate in Gutu constituency. She later pulled out of the race without giving reasons.
Rushwaya’s on-off relationship with the media also characterises her management style. She appears to have a cordial relationship with some media sections, and a frosty one with others.
Pathisani Moyo, then editor at the Bulawayo-based Sunday News, travelled with the Warriors team that lost to Malawi in a World Cup qualifier in 2006. Moyo was reportedly humiliated by Rushwaya in front of the Warriors players after criticising the team’s performance.