BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO
Local model Nomazulu Patience Gumbo has not yet received the prize she was promised two years ago after walking away with the Miss Zuri Africa — Zimbabwe crown at a tightly-contested pageant held at the Jasen Mphepo Little Theatre in Harare.
“This industry is dead, really dead,” Gumbo recently told Standard Style.
For her September 2019 efforts, Gumbo was supposed to get cosmetics worth US$353, a trip to Victoria Falls and US$2 000 cash, courtesy of popular Harare traditionalist Sekuru Banda.
She was also said to have won a personalised website design and a hosting voucher for her cultural activities.
All those promises remained pie in the sky and the model is still keeping her fingers crossed although she now believes it could have been a scam as she and many others have lived with these kinds of false promises from pageant organisers.
“I never received a prize from all the pageants l participated in, they were just mere promises. Our dreams are being killed by the organisers who don’t have models at heart,” Gumbo, a 2019 Miss Malaika Bulawayo queen and Miss Zimbabwe 2020 finalist, said.
Zuri Africa Global founder and director Ryan Nush and national director Eutychus “DJ Holy” Chamunorwa could not be reached for comment last week.
However, investigations carried out by this publication proved that it was not Gumbo alone, but many other aspiring models have fallen prey to this kind of pageant “scam”.
Miss Midlands Agricultural Show (2019) and Zuri Africa (2019)’s first princess Samkelisumusa Makombe, who didn’t receive her participation fee from the latter pageant, lamented that empty promises ruin models’ dreams.
“Organisers don’t even worry because every year, they are assured of a new crop of young and desperate models that they can easily exploit. These aspiring models are duped and promised heaven on earth, but they get nothing and the cycle goes on and on,” she said.
“Most of them take pageants as fundraising events. The poorly planned events are hosted at low-costs, but profits are realised at the end of the day. When it’s time for rewards, you are tossed back and forth from the organiser to the sponsor. Ideally, the model and sponsors should never meet.”
Reigning Miss Chitungwiza Catherine Wayah is yet to receive her prize, three months after walking away with the crown, and blames the so-called sponsors.
“I blame the sponsors because they all disappeared on the 11th hour, leaving the organisers stranded,” she said.
A few weeks before the pageant, organiser Marshalrose Munashe Ngoso told this publication that sponsors for the pageants were not forthcoming.
“I will continue with the event, but the challenge will be on the prizes. I want to give the winners what they are worth, so that they will do some projects after the pageant. But the challenge is that I am still looking for sponsors and the event is around the corner,” he said.
Models against Abuse movement founder Lucia Mazhou, aka Lucy Bardie, described failure to receive promised prizes as “one of the major challenges models face.”
Former model and founder of Zim Gossip Models Agency Mercy Mushaninga emphasised the importance of signing contracts before pageants.
“The problem that happens with most pageants is lack of contracts that states how winners would get prizes. Agreements should be clear before a model enters a pageant,” Mushaninga said.
“They should sign an agreement, especially if there is money, a car or something to be won. Models are so ignorant of those kinds of things; they get into a pageant and never sign a contract. Even if they sign, they don’t read.”
Mushaninga, who is also a member of the Sons and Daughters Royal Families Trust and Models Association of Zimbabwe [MAZ] vice-president, said they raise awareness on the importance of contractual requirement in modelling.
“When models come to MAZ with these kinds of issues, the first thing we ask is their contract. With the contract, we can go to our lawyers, but with no paperwork there is nothing that we can do, judges would dismiss that,” she said.
“We encourage models to join reputable agencies so that we assist on legal issues and some of their grievances. However, models don’t like to join these agencies, they want to be freelancers, which makes them more vulnerable. It’s good to join legitimate agencies.”
The modelling industry, which used to fall under the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, faces many challenges some of which are swept under the carpet because there are no authentic modelling boards in the country.