Barbara Rwodzi Biography: Early Life | Education | Business Career | Political Career | Personal Life
Barbara Rwodzi Early Life and Education
Barbara Rwodzi is a Zimbabwean entrepreneur and politician who serves as the Deputy Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry since December 2021. She is also the Member of Parliament for Chirumanzu South constituency, representing the ruling ZANU PF party.
Birth and Upbringing
Barbara Rwodzi was born in Chirumanzu, a rural district in the Midlands province of Zimbabwe. Her father was a war veteran who later became a member of the Zimbabwe National Army. She grew up in Harare, where her parents worked, but she would always visit her rural home during school holidays.
Marriage and Early Political Engagement
She married at the age of 19 into a family with strong ZANU PF links. Her father-in-law, Aaron Simbanegavi Rwodzi, was a Central Committee member of the party. She moved to Fairfields, a business centre in Chirumanzu, where her in-laws had several retail shops. She became active in party politics and community development in the area.
Barbara Rwodzi pursued her education and obtained a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Nottingham Trent University in England.
Barbara Rwodzi founded her own business, Machine Electrical Distributors, which supplies electrical equipment and accessories. She later established House of BarRue Knitwear, a successful enterprise that exports handmade garments to various markets. She was part of the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP), where she had the opportunity to meet other businesswomen from Africa and American entrepreneurs, including designers like Diane von Furstenberg.
Barbara Rwodzi represented Zimbabwe in the Pan-African Parliament, where she advocated for rotational leadership based on the African Union rules. In 2018, she contested as a ZANU PF parliamentary candidate for Chirumanzu constituency and won by a landslide margin. She defeated the incumbent MP, Pedzisai Munanzwi, in the party primary elections and also beat her cousin, Simbarashe Mukashi of MDC Alliance, among other candidates in the general elections.
Barbara became the only female National Assembly member for ZANU PF in the Midlands province and one of the few women in parliament. She embarked on several development projects in her constituency, such as sinking boreholes, establishing community gardens, and repairing school blocks and bridges.
In December 2021, she was appointed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa as the Deputy Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry. She works under Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu to oversee the sectors that are vital for the country’s economy and sustainable development.
Barbara Rwodzi has three children, two boys, and a girl. Her husband, Christopher Mutonhori Rwodzi, a retired soldier, died in a car accident in June 2023. He was an independent candidate for the Gutu West constituency. He was traveling from Gutu to Harare when his Toyota Prado plunged into a dry riverbed on a bridge along the Harare Highway. Christopher Rwodzi died on the spot. His death was described as mysterious and suspicious by some of his relatives and supporters, who suspected foul play. He was buried at his rural homestead in Fairfields, Mvuma.
“Assistant Inspector” Scandal
A police officer at Charandura Police Station in Chirumanzu arrested a ZANU PF supporter, only known as Danger, for allegedly pulling down posters of the opposition CCC party. Rwodzi intervened and verbally assaulted the police officer, calling him a “stupid idiot” on a call and threatening to report him to his superiors and the president. The confrontation was captured on audio and circulated on social media, causing public outrage. The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) said they were investigating the matter. Rwodzi did not issue any public statement or apology regarding the incident.
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