BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
THE star appears not to be so bright at StarBrite as executive director Barney Mpariwa, a former top television and radio personality, has come under fire for opting to use City Sports Bar — described by stakeholders as a “brothel” — during recent auditions held in Harare.
Stakeholders who witnessed the auditions were adamant that it was wrong for Mpariwa to take the contestants, who included schoolchildren, to City Sports Bar considering the sleazy business often associated with the drinking hole.
Mpariwa yesterday, however, defended their venue, saying it was a safe environment for the contestants as they conducted the auditions during the day under the watchful eye of uniformed security forces.
“We are trying our best to do the best using the very little resources, we have and at the same time we are not careless,” he said.Mpariwa said they were in need of assistance to secure a public address system, a hall and lights for use during auditions.
“We actually made an announcement that no one was to go beyond certain areas. In fact, in that place, probably it was the safest place because we were actually guarding against such acts. The audience who watched were very respectful,” he said.
Mpariwa then lashed out at those that had pulled out their knives against him, calling them “holier-than-thous”.“Unless someone is giving me money to then say go and do the auditions in a safe place, where there is absolutely no one who might come in drunk, then that is a different story. We might go and do the auditions at City Sports Centre and the children misbehave at the toilets. Anything can happen anywhere. It’s just how then you are going to make sure that you safeguard the children.
We had teachers in there who were actually protecting those children as well,” he said.His critics had claimed that while they appreciated Mpariwa’s efforts, it was wrong to conduct auditions inside a bar that was virtually a brothel.
Mpariwa said they were now done with the preliminary rounds to the regional finals and were now heading for the boot camp with 150 contestants, who will do 62 acts.
The StarBrite concept is borrowed from global talent search shows such as American Idol, X Factor and Britain Has Got Talent and is meant to offer opportunities to talented Zimbabweans.
This year’s auditions,started on July 6 in Mbare and have been to different parts of the country.