Bongani Ndlovu, Showbiz Correspondent
FIFTY finalists of the Miss Tourism International pageant have arrived in Langkawi Island, Malaysia in preparation for the finale at the end of the year, but Zimbabwe will not be represented as holding of the local pageant still hangs in the balance.
This is after Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) last month revoked the licence from patron Barbara Mzembi who together with her team, have been silent ever since.
“The pageant was being organised by Mrs Mzembi, however, the licence was withdrawn so this means she’ll no longer be organising the pageant,” said ZTA spokesperson Sugar Chagonda.
The licence was revoked because according to ZTA CEO Karikoga Kaseke, Mzembi flouted the terms of agreement.
“One of whose terms was to mobilise resources for the event and make sure the corporate world got involved and made the event successful outside of government; which was the reason why we license it out.”
Kaseke was also incensed when Mzembi leaned on her husband (former Tourism and later Foreign Affairs minister Walter Mzembi) and she received $80 000 public money for the event.
The national pageant was supposed to be held this Saturday and according to Chagonda no one has taken up the licence. He said it is most likely that Zimbabwe will not be sending any contestant for the global competition being held on December 31.
“I don’t think it’ll be possible to send someone there (Malaysia). Let us say someone were to take up the licence today; they’ll have to do auditions for regional finalists and select the queen. It’s not feasible for all that to be done now,” said Chagonda.
He said all hope was not lost as several organisations have, however, shown interest in holding the pageant.
“There’re several organisations and people who’ve expressed interest in holding the pageant and they’ve approached Mr Kaseke.”
By this time last year, Ashley Morgen had been crowned queen and she was already preparing to leave for Malaysia for the world finals. Morgen who recently graduated from Nust impressed as she made top 10 at the pageant that was won by New Zealand’s Ariel Pearse.
Mzembi had already conducted auditions for this year’s pageant with 15 models being shortlisted for the finale. Chagonda said it would be the prerogative of whoever takes up the Miss Tourism licence on whether or not to rope in these contestants or select their own.
Whoever takes up the licence will be under tremendous pressure to deliver as a benchmark was set last year as the pageant was worldclass with the queen strutting away with $20 000 and a vehicle.