Nightmare in Miss Zim camp

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The standards of Miss Zimbabwe pageant have dropped dismally after the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) handed over the license to the Miss Zimbabwe Trust last year.

What used to be a holiday and lifetime experience for the contestants has now been turned into a nightmare one would never want to experience again. The Miss Zimbabwe Trust has failed to secure sufficient funds to give the preparation the glamour it deserves.

The first rough encounter for models was in February when they left their homes for camp and were booked into a cheap lodge where they were evicted after two days because organisers failed to pay for accommodation. Organisers said they had just booked the lodge for one day when contestants came for a photo shoot.

Unlike previous editions where models were given allowances, this year’s contestants were allegedly forced to pay money for their upkeep. Gerald Mashonga, a Miss Zimbabwe spokesperson confirmed this.

“Yes, we told them to pay $100 which would be used for their general upkeep and to tailor their dresses which they would use on the final show,” said Mushonga.

Models that spoke to NewsDay narrated their ordeals during their camp that was cut short on Sunday when they were told to return to their bases.

A sashing ceremony usually performed during the first week in camp has not been done with some models moving around with their regional sashes.
Lack of uniform sashes has caused confusion as some have sashes for queens while others have princess sashes. Some do not have any branded regalia for the pageant as was the case before.

One of the models stated to NewsDay: “At times while in camp we had boiled cabbages without cooking oil. We were told to cook our own meals using firewood because that is what a Zimbabwean woman does.”

In response to these allegations, organisers said the programme was in line with their theme “I am Zimbabwean”, which required them to experience a rural set-up.

She added that a lodge at which they were residing had no electricity most of the times and they had to endure darkness for long hours.

Another hiccup had been the models’ constant travelling to and from Harare. One contestant who does not reside in Harare said: “We used our own money to travel to camp and the first time, we came thinking we were going to have a sashing ceremony only to find out we had come for a photo-shoot. My parents were very disappointed when I told them I had travelled all the way to Harare to have pictures taken.”

Initially, the contest was meant to be held in February, but was postponed to March 23 due to lack of sponsorship.

At this rate, it is likely to be postponed again because with 10 days left before the finale, organisers are still looking for sponsorship and a place to accommodate the girls.

Previously, models were treated to the glamorous life by ZTA which used to pick up the tab for them for accommodation, food, entertainment activities, grooming lessons, gym and transport from their homes and back.

Why none of the former sponsors are keen on funding the new licence holders raises a few questions. Could it be a case of sabotage or have the organisers failed to get the sponsors interested?

Another question would be why the Miss Zimbabwe Trust was not working closely with ZTA who have waded their way through the storm over the last six years.

Mashonga blamed Zimbabweans for showing lack of interest in the national pageant.

“The entire nation is failing us. The whole country is not patriotic enough to realise it is a national pageant, not an individual one. The national pageant is in financial trouble and very few corporates or individuals are forthcoming,” he said.

The pageant has become something of a joke being dogged by all sorts of unpleasant developments.