FOLLOWING Marry Chiwenga’s (MC) resignation as chairperson of the Miss Zimbabwe Trust — although she remains the Miss Zimbabwe pageant licence holder — she spoke to NewsDay Life & Style Reporter, Winstone Antonio (ND) about her six-year journey at the helm of the trust. Below are the excerpts from the interview.
Sneak Peek with Winstone Antonio
ND: Share with us your experience at the helm of the trust?
MC: It has taken a lot of hard work, dedication and selflessness. I feel like a good loser who has lost something to a hard working executive committee, which will work harder than me. It has been a good six-year journey, though packed with a lot of challenges that were beyond us, but together with the executive committee we worked hard and did a good job to take Miss World Zimbabwe to where it is now. I am happy that the pageant has been greatly received across spectrum with captains of industries and even other government entities have accepted that it (pageant) is a must go event.
ND: How confident are you about the new team?
MC: I have confidence in this Miss Zimbabwe Trust executive committee that has been involved in the running of the pageant for all these years. It is the same script, but different cast. Off course I know I have surrendered a huge responsibility to Lieutenant-Colonel Jeffrey Jenje, Tendai Chirau, Nyarai Bwanya, Catherine Muchairi, Christine Matambo, Lorraine Chawanda, Arnold Hwande, Tinashe Nyamuziwa and Vakai Tavengwa who make up the executive committee to run the country’s flagship pageant, Miss World Zimbabwe, which also comes with a big responsibility of flying the country’s flag high.
ND: How do you really feel about these developments?
MC: I should be sad to give this up, but I am not, because the pageant will be in capable hands and I am confident they will not disappoint me and the nation at large. I just want to challenge them to do it better than what I used to do with them so as to raise the pageant’s bar high.
ND: How best can you describe the state of local modelling industry?
MC: We have talented models, but they are not getting what they should be getting for their efforts. Of concern is that they are not being paid enough. In terms of projects, they must be doing a lot of promotions to spearhead our tourism and market our country. Maybe it is our market that is failing to tap into, and utilise, what we have on offer to market their products.
We have to improve our self by celebrating our own talent. Look at most of our billboards. Why accept an advertising billboard with a foreign citizen yet we can do it locally?
ND: There have been reports of bogus pageants and modelling agencies that abuse models. What is your take on that?
MC: The abuse of models is not tolerated and must come to an end. Perpetrators must be brought to book. Relevant authorities and stakeholders must take head-on those who abuse the innocent girls by organising fake pageants and operating bogus agencies just to prey on the innocent models.
ND: How did you manage to pull through in terms of sponsorship?
MC: We have sponsors who are loyal to the pageant who have helped and continue to assist in the hosting of the pageant. There have been some claims that we have been receiving sponsorship from the government but it is not true. Since we started hosting this pageant, we never received any financial or form of assistance from the government. Many people think it is easy to organise Miss World Zimbabwe. Hosting such a pageant comes with huge costs including a whopping $5000 paid to Miss World which has since been revised to outrageous £5000 this year, which is approximately $7000. The entry ticket to the Miss World finale is about $1500. As the organisers, they only provide accommodation and food for the queen during her stay for the pageant. There is much investment in this pageant, but we have been victims of our own investment.
ND: Do you think Zimbabwe has the capacity to host a pageant of such a magnitude?
MC: Why not? We have the capacity to host Miss World. We have even expressed our interest to host Miss World in Zimbabwe at Victoria Falls. We submitted the template and everything they requested from us, but we were told the pageant was fully booked for about four years. But surprisingly, they have not yet changed the hosting nation after we applied, which leaves us with more questions than answers.
ND: Miss World has never been kind to local models, from your experience with the girls, do you think local models stand a chance of making it one day?
MC: I am happy with the calibre of girls we have in Zimbabwe and those who have represented us at this global pageant. I sometimes feel why we don’t get to the top is about our previous political history. I have failed to get answers that I come to consider that it might be an issue of political game, but the sins of fathers cannot be sins of the children that they get punished. We have potential girls, but they are being deprived, not given the equal opportunities as the whites’ girls. Such perception need to be changed, we deserve better treatments.
ND: There have been accusations of the trust’s influence in choosing of the queen at Miss World Zimbabwe grand finale, how far true is it?
MC: Such philosophy is misleading. It is not true at all. The pageant is run in a professional way that allows the independent judges to execute their duties freely without interference from the trust. Just like everyone, the trust will also be in the dark and they will get to know the winner when announced on the grand finale’s night.
ND: Your parting shot?
MC: As I step down, I am happy that our project was accepted by the world and Miss World at large. Last year our reigning queen Chiedza Mhosva’s Beauty with a Purpose project that focused on cervical cancer scored big after it helped her qualify for the Miss World semi-finals when it was selected in the top 20 of the 112 projects presented at the global pageant. To the executive committee, I just want to urge them to remain focused and concentrate on the pageant’s purpose for it to remain significant and relevant. I want to thank our media partners and sponsors for their unwavering support and I appeal to them to continue supporting the committee to organise the most prestigious beauty pageant in Zimbabwe.