A knell could soon be sounding for the Zimbabwean modelling industry if events in the past two weeks are anything to go by.
By SILENCE CHARUMBIRA
Almost 20 beauties from different corners of the world [including Tati Torres, Miss Heritage Ecuador pictured above] converged in Harare two weeks ago with the intention of battling it out at the Miss Heritage World pageant that was scheduled for December 6.
After travelling long distances, the models were shattered when the pageant they had spent months preparing for, failed to take off at the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC).
Initially, the organisers tried to move the event at the last minute but failed.
Yet still the organisers blamed the government and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) for the disaster.
Tare Munzara, the chairperson of the pageant, last week said the event was going ahead but refused to give more details.
Karikoga Kaseke, the chief executive officer of ZTA last week termed the pageant cancellation a scandal that his association did not want to be associated with.
“I was called by the organisers on December 2 while I was in Malaysia and they wanted my help and I advised them to cancel. Munzara seemed to agree with me, so I was shocked to see people stranded at HICC saying the event had been cancelled,” said Kaseke.
“As the custodians of the country’s image on the tourism front, I am not surprised that people expect us to clean up this mess. In fact, any right-thinking person would want us to clean this up, but we do not have any legal basis on which to take over.
“Given the reports that some of the models were starving in camp, this then can be regarded as a scandal. We do not even know what the girls are doing in camp that befits the Miss Heritage title. I know the girls have not visited the Heroes’ Acre which is one of the most significant heritage sites in Zimbabwe or the Great Zimbabwe. So what heritage is there?” quipped Kaseke.
Kaseke said if only there had been a vibrant modelling association, such issues could have been solved.
Deputy-president of the Modelling Industry Association of Zimbabwe, Wilbert Rukato, said he suspected there were authoritative elements that sabotaged the pageant.
Rukato refused to condemn Munzara and company, but said they would investigate what went wrong.
“There are two things here. We regret the cancellation of the event. As you know models are fragile and we also believe the organisers could have taken a bit more time,” said Rukato.
“There have been running battles behind the scenes and we suspect interested parties would not want the event to be successful, as that would make them look bad.”
He said he believed the hiccups that occurred on December 6, the initial date scheduled for the event, resulted after interested parties blocked the event.
Whether the pageant finally succeeded or not may not be important but what is critical is for Rukato and peers to improve the way they handle their business or Zimbabwe will forever be an under-achieving nation on the modelling scene.