By Prince Mushawevato
The glitzy Miss Tourism Zimbabwe (MTZ) pageant is hanging in the balance due to lack of sponsorship, The Sunday Mail Society has learnt.
In addition, an impeccable source from the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) told this publication that “the pageant is no longer a priority to the tourism body”.
“There has been a shift in the destination marketing strategy and events like Miss Tourism are no longer of top value to ZTA,” revealed the inside source who declined to be named. But ZTA head of corporate affairs Godfrey Koti shed some light on the pageant. He said the Authority has embarked on a massive restructuring process, which will result in staff rationalisation.
“We are currently streamlining our operations so that we make best use of the resources at our disposal. The Authority owns the MTZ licence but it is not our duty to mobilise sponsorship or be involved in the actual organisation of the pageant.
“The ZTA only provides technical support to the company running the event on our behalf, not financial support. It is the organisers’ responsibility to make sure they run the pageant successfully, even without our involvement in any way,” highlighted Koti.
But MTZ board chairperson Sibusisiwe Dube-Muleya said the pageant needs ZTA’s input.
“There is no way we can do the event without ZTA’s input. We are hoping to engage them soon so that we map the way forward,” she said.
Should the event be postponed, this will be the second time in three years. The pageant did not take place in 2017 after ZTA pulled the plug on it. Back then, ZTA said the pageant’s patron then, Barbara Mzembi, had shown signs of failing to manage it.
However, the event bounced back last year, even though indications were that it was still in intensive care.
Fast forward to this year and pageant organisers are not sure what will happen to this year’s edition.
Reports suggest that ongoing provincial auditions have not been smooth-sailing. According to the initial plan, provincial proceedings are supposed to have been concluded by now.
“Yes, some provinces have held their finals but are yet to give prizes to the winners. They are in the process of mobilising funds.
By now, the national final date is supposed to have been made public. That is still to happen.
The pageant is usually held in September. This gives the crowned queen ample time to prepare for the Miss Tourism World Intercontinental final.
This time around, corporates that usually scramble to sponsor the pageant have maintained their distance.
ln an interview with The Sunday Mail Society Dube-Muleya confirmed that all is not well in their camp.
“Companies are not coming forward with sponsorship. They all claim to have tight budgets. The current economic situation is not favouring anyone and things are not happening according to plan and that has derailed our plans. There is no need to have a date for the final when we don’t have money to host the event,” bemoaned Dube-Muleya.
“I have scheduled a meeting with all stakeholders to see if it’s necessary to have the event.
“We cannot have a show just for the sake of it. Ultimately it has to benefit the girl child and if it’s not fulfilling that objective, it has no reason to run,” said the MTZ chairperson.
MTZ president Sarah Mpofu acknowledges the challenges at hand but remains optimistic.
“Sponsorship is tight just like everything else but we are going to try and make the event happen,” said Mpofu.
Funds secured from sponsors are used to take care of models’ needs during boot camp, their prizes, securing venues and acquiring stage equipment, among other requirements.
MTZ is one of the country’s high-profile modelling events, coming second after Miss World Zimbabwe.
Its collapse will be a blow to aspiring models as the country does not have many events of this calibre.
In the past, the ZTA has used crowned queens as their destination marketing ambassadors in different local, regional and international assignments.
ZTA chief executive, Dr Karikoga Kaseke, who is away from work on medical grounds, played a key role in bringing Justice Maphosa’s BigTime Strategic Group for the memorable 2016 edition of the competition.
MTZ organisers then struggled to put last year’s show together following the BigTime Strategic Group’s withdrawal as the main sponsor of the pageant.
The reigning MTZ queen is Tafadzwa Jaricha while her first and second princesses are Natalie Mangodo and Life Matunzeni respectively. Sunday Mail.