By Sindiso Dube in Bulawayo
The battle over the use of the Miss Rural name between Bulawayo businesswoman Sipho Mazibuko and Oil Castor has taken a new twist with the bio-technology company denying infringing into Mazibuko’s business line.
Mazibuko, who is the founder of Miss Rural, last week took a swipe at the organisers of the Miss Rural Africa pageant accusing them of running the pageant without her consent.
The former model said she would approach the courts for determination of the matter.
However, Castor Oil co-founder Alvaro Arellano dismissed Mazibuko’s claims, saying the former 1992 Miss Bulawayo queen was just seeking attention.
“She owns Miss Rural, how is it the same with Miss Rural Africa June 2020?” Arellano told Standard Style.
“That’s like someone owning Blue Sky Limited, doesn’t mean they own Blue Sky Limos or Blue Sky Media, the claims are a cry for attention.”
Arellano said they were proceeding with the pageant with preparations now at an advanced stage.
Mazibuko’s legal representative Nancy Samuriwo said her client would take legal action.
“Miss Rural is a registered trademark, wholly registered in Zimbabwe and accordingly if anyone duplicates it or makes something of similar nature, they are infringing and my client feels infringed upon by Miss Rural Africa, which is also in the business of pageantry.
“As a legal representative, I can’t disclose the strategy that my client will take. All I can say is she is definitely taking action.”
Mazibuko held three editions of Miss Rural, where she hosted pageants from the rudimentary level to national events.
“Miss Rural is for the rural girl and it can’t be done online to avoid fake contests” Mazibuko said.
“The whole purpose of empowering the rural child is defeated because most of the rural girls are not online and do not have Facebook or Instagram accounts.
“They have tarnished the image of Miss Rural by having undeserving models, mostly those from urban areas who do not meet the requirements.”
Miss Rural fizzled out in 2007 and the last contest was held in Masvingo where Nembudziya (Gokwe North) model Nyasha Phiri was crowned queen.
“The economic crisis from 2008 led to the sabbatical of the pageant as we couldn’t find sponsors,” Mazibuko said.
“Miss Rural needs a lot of money since it stretches across the country’s rural areas.
“I have plans for the future and I can’t give Oil Castor the go-ahead to steal my intellectual property.
“Imagine, if Hifa [Harare International Festival of the Arts] or Intwasa Arts Festival owners skip some years and somebody comes in and plagiarises their productions and concepts.”
She said Oil Castor should have approached her first before bringing the name of the pageant into disrepute.
“Miss Rural’s name has been tarnished,” she said.
But, Arellano said their pageant was totally different from Mazibuko’s, hence a different approach.
“To enter, you send in your name and a paragraph explaining why you want to be Miss Rural Africa 2020, four photographs and a 15-second video,” Arellano said.
“As for contestants, we are using the honour system. They can live wherever they want as long they are rural at heart.”
Standard Style has established that seven of the 11 models paraded on the Oil Castor online platforms for voting are not from rural areas and that is clearly shown on their profiles.
The models include Praise Chiruka (Gweru), Nomatter Sibanda (Harare), Britney Vette Chiyoko (Victoria Falls), Towanda Cabinda (Mozambique), Nobility Mazowe (Kuwadzana), Firosa Ana Rodrigues (Mozambique) and Nthando Brenda Siginya (Warren Park 1).
According to the organisers, Miss Rural Africa is a beauty pageant for young African women based in rural areas.
The contest is being hosted on the Oil Castor website, where there is a voting platform. This is a second attempt to stage the contest after the initial one was cancelled after the Facebook page hosting the peageant was mysteriously deleted.
It is alleged that the leading contestant from Tsholotsho in Matabeleland North, Miranda Ncube, from the initial contest did not get the promised US$$10 000, and the organisers tried to offer her a marketing job at their firm.