There is no doubt so far that Miss Tourism Zimbabwe (MTZ), an evolved version of the now defunct Miss Carnival, has changed the face of local modelling to the extent that sponsors are seemingly jostling for last-minute chances to be associated with the brand.
By Kennedy Nyavaya/Winstone Antonio
With preparations for the grand finale of Miss Tourism Zimbabwe set for this Friday at the Harare International Conference Centre at an advanced stage, the organisers have promised a world-class event.
In a country where the modelling industry had lost corporate sponsorship and public appeal, organisers of this pageant seem to be hitting windfalls after securing lucrative sponsorship.
“When the pageant was given to Barbra Mzembi as Miss Carnival, that marked the transformation of the pageant into what it is today,” pageant spokesperson Alson Darikayi told The Standard Style on Thursday.
“We had to look at where other pageants in Zimbabwe went wrong because there were issues regarding lack of transparency as to how they were run, to the extent that the corporate world had abandoned pageantry.”
The inception of Barbra, wife to Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Walter Mzembi as matron seems to be yielding positive results.
To avoid direct contact with politics, Darikayi said the pageant had been privatised as part of the rebranding process to attract sponsorship.
“The rebranding meant that we had to remove politics from the running of the pageant because ZTA [Zimbabwe Tourism Authority] and the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry are political institutions, so we thought the new MTZ should be run by the private sector,” he said.
“It is a private sector-driven pageant, although we work with government institutions as partners and stakeholders in a project which is for the tourism sector by the tourism sector.”
Strict measures are in place to monitor the conduct of the final 18 contestants who went into boot camp on Thursday, and Darikayi conceded that it was virtually impossible to close all loopholes.
“I would not want to lie to you and say we are 100% mitigating controversies or scandals, but what I can tell you is that for all the finalists, we have gone through a serious background check and lifestyle audit,” he said.
“We had experts who vetted the girls but because they are people, we cannot fully guarantee although we also made them swear and sign documents to secure that they have not gone through some misconduct.
“We were so overwhelmed with the quality of the models we have in boot camp; the 18 finalists are extremely good in beauty and intelligence. The judges are in for a hard time coming up with the three winners.”
Meanwhile, the organisers have signed yet another partnership deal with the Study in China Admission System (Sicas) that will see one lucky contestant getting a four-year scholarship to study in China.
Speaking during the unveiling ceremony of the partnership in the capital, Mzembi said she was happy with the development.
“We believe in education to get out of poverty. That is why all of our 18 contestants have A’ Level [passes] as a minimum qualification, giving them a chance to go to university and any of the girls can grab the opportunity,” Mzembi said.
She said they had also partnered the Zimbabwe Agricultural Society which gave them five tractors which would be used in farming activities for their girl child projects.
Sicas business director Joy Khosa said they were committed to promoting the girl child in line with Mzembi’s vision.
“This partnership means a lot to Zimbabwe. We are in 60 countries and we hope we will get a girl who will really represent Zimbabwe and promote it as a safe tourist destination,” Khosa said.
“The lucky girl will go to a top university in China and we hope when she is back, she will also be able to share more of China with fellow Zimbabweans.”
Khosa said as part of the selection criteria, the contestants would be asked to write an essay highlighting why they think they can be a suitable candidate to represent and market Zimbabwe and China as safe tourist destinations.
“We have over 300 universities in China and the lucky girl will have over 2 000 programmes to choose from, though we want to have a push in tourism,” he said.
Other pageants have marched into the exit door after failing to attract enough sponsorship and recently organisers of Miss Zimbabwe announced they would not be carrying out the contest this year under outlandish circumstances.
This left a large part of stakeholders and the public agitated, with some questioning the seriousness among active players in the sector.