Welshman Ncube, Henrietta Rushwaya in 'secret affair' – Report

FORMER Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya is said to have run a US$9,000 travel bill on trips with newly elected MDC party president Professor Welshman Ncube during last year’s Fifa World Cup soccer tournament in South Africa.\r\n

Documents obtained from Zifa show that Rushwaya and Prof Ncube travelled together to and from Johannesburg on three occasions inside 11 days (between June 29 and July 9 2010) during the global soccer tournament.

The documents further show that earlier Prof Ncube had travelled to Johannesburg with Rushwaya, purportedly on the Zifa account.

Rushwaya made the flight reservations on all the five occasions, raising speculation on the nature of her relationship with Prof Ncube, who is also the Minister of Industry and Commerce.

Rumours of a relationship between the two started back in March 2010.

A soccer website, Realsoccer.co.zw wrote back then that Ncube and Rushwaya were "officially married".

"The ZIFA Chief Executive Officer Henrietta Rushwaya, … is now rumoured to be officially married to Professor Welshman Ncube, the Minister for Industry and International Trade," claimed the website.

Sources at the football mother body said they were shocked to receive an invoice from travel agent Led Travel & Tours indicating that Rushwaya was indebted to the tune of nearly US$9,000 for flights made during the World Cup period.

The invoice was delivered on July 15, just 12 days before the Zifa board suspended Rushwaya on allegations of corruption and mismanagement.

She was subsequently fired on October 26 after a disciplinary tribunal ruled that she be dismissed for mismanagement and insubordination.

Acting Zifa chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze confirmed that the association had received the invoice but added that they had since forwarded it to Rushwaya for settlement of the debt.

“I can confirm receipt of the invoice, but we have since forwarded it to Ms Rushwaya for settlement of the debt because, as far as we are concerned, those were private trips which were not sanctioned by the national association,” said Mashingaidze.

Led Travel & Tours general manager Andrew Murape refused to comment on the invoice, citing client confidentiality.

Rushwaya confirmed making the flight bookings, but denied that she had used a Zifa account for that purpose.

“Yes, I made the flight bookings, but I used my personal account.

"The invoice was routed through Zifa simply because that is where I was stationed at the time. It therefore means that Zifa were not billed for those flights.”

Rushwaya declined to disclose the nature of her relationship with Prof Ncube, saying: “All I can say is that we were working together on programmes related to the World Cup.

“In any event, Prof Ncube only travelled twice to South Africa during the period you are referring to although I had made several bookings.

"I think this was because of various other commitments he had at the time,” said Rushwaya. 

She, however, would not elaborate on what programmes the two were working on outside the jurisdiction of the relevant Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture.

Investigations also show that two days before the World Cup final match between the Netherlands and eventual champions Spain, Rushwaya also booked a return ticket to Johannesburg on behalf of Prof Ncube, presumably for the politician to watch the historic match.

She then went on to book two more return tickets for herself and a local sports journalist with whom she apparently travelled to South Africa on the eve of the match. – The Sunday Mail/TZG