Miss Tourism Zimbabwe (MTZ) spokesperson Alson Darikai says it is business as usual for the pageant after allegations of misappropriations of funds were put to bed last week.
By Kennedy Nyavaya
After witnessing what was by far the best modelling event in the country’s recent history, the nation woke up to the news that models had approached the sponsor citing failure by MTZ to pay them their dues.
The anchor sponsor, Justice Maphosa, had to fly in from South Africa last Thursday to clear the air on the issue at a press conference in the capital.
Speaking to The Standard Style, Darikai said Maphosa’s address was a sign that MTZ and the South Africa-based sponsor were “inseparable”.
“As Miss Tourism, we had no problem from the beginning as we knew what we were doing in terms of how we used the money — which was above board,” Darikai said.
“What Mr Maphosa said at the press conference was a confirmation that MTZ and Big Time Strategic Group [Maphosa’s company] are inseparable.”
He also said that they were not going to punish the girls but rather teach them to follow proper channels of communicating.
“We see these contestants as our daughters, so we will not take any disciplinary measures against them but only educate them on how to communicate because as a pageant, we have order and we would not want such things to be repeated,” he said.
However, modelling guru Mercy Mushaninga called for punitive action against those who breached protocol.
“Models are not supposed to speak directly to the sponsor. Rather, they should follow protocol and communicate with relevant people within the organisation.
“The way I see it is that since the contract between the organiser and sponsor was breached, they should be disciplined so that it does not happen again,” said Mushaninga.
MTZ organisers could be having the last laugh as the mishap has brought certainty on their sponsorships enigma, with Maphosa pledging to bankroll this year’s edition as well.
“Definitely, why not? Do you walk away just because you had challenges? Only a weak man, a feeble-minded person would do that,” said Maphosa responding to a question on whether he would continue sponsoring MTZ.
This was a reversal of his sentiments last year when he said he only wanted to set the bar and let other sponsors continue from where he would have left off.
The MTZ trust is, however, still under the spotlight as stakeholders are yet to see transparent payments being made to last year’s participants.
The confusion somehow posed a threat as it tainted the image of the minister of Tourism Walter Mzembi, who is bidding for the UNWTO secretary-general post since his wife, Barbra, is the pageant’s patron.