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Miss Tourism Zim in financial doldrums

Hope is the only thing keeping the dream of a successful Miss Tourism Zimbabwe (MTZ) beauty pageant this year alive, The Standard Style has learnt.

A lot, including scandals and politics, comes to mind when the MTZ brand name is mentioned, but one cannot also forget the world-class event at the 2016 grand finale, which brought back the glamour synonymous with pageantry worldwide.

The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority’s (ZTA) flagship contest is now in the hands of veteran modelling instructor Sarah Mpofu, who is eager to steer the ship towards success.

However, with no concrete sponsorship to date, for the finals that are scheduled for September, her dream is slowly dying.

“We are still taking the begging bowl to various sponsors because we need funding as far as accommodation, the contestants visits and travels, among other things, are concerned,” Mpofu told The Standard Style on Thursday.

Mpofu is so far free of controversy but remains cash-strapped. Her faith is that benefactors will emerge once they gain trust and buy into her vision.

“We do not have an anchor sponsor because many are still sceptical. Remember these are new hands on the steering wheel, but once they gain faith, we will be okay,”
said the ex-Miss Bulawayo.

“The challenges are not necessarily based on the contest alone, they national and that makes securing sponsorship a challenge, but we are hopeful.”

Had it been 2016, generous sponsor Big Time Strategic Group would have jumped up to the rescue with a jaw-dropping amount.

But, it’s not the case this time, perhaps because Mpofu has no influence beyond pageantry.

“MTZ is a ZTA baby, but we have distanced ourselves from the organising part so that we can watch from a distance,” said ZTA boss Karikoga Kaseke.

According to Kaseke, the authority will, however, make sure the contest does not flop as a result of financial constraints.

“It will not fail as we are going to sponsor in cash and kind like we did in Mrs Mzembi’s [former MTZ patron] era where we even facilitated her sponsorship by Big Time among other corporates,” he said.

Ironically, his assertions seem a far cry from reality as the institution almost shelved the mega Harare International Carnival last year due to lack of funds and had to depend on Big Time who had by then withdrawn sponsorship from MTZ.

ZTA can still find a benefactor for the event in view of their cordial relations with the new licensee.

“When something goes amiss it does collateral damage on the ZTA brand, but we are happy with the new licence holder,” Kaseke said. She behaves like the licensee unlike her predecessor who was behaving like she was the one licensing us. so as long as she [Mpofu] is following agreements in the contract, we will support her.”

Meanwhile, the pageant has since been broken up into provincial contests in the build-up to the main event.

“We decided to take it back to the communities as was done during the Kiki Divaris era. I believe the models needed that support from communities which is very important for the event,” Mpofu explained the new format which saw the selection of provincial MTZ licence holders.

“It has been wonderful so far and the communities have embraced the idea, which is different from the past where people would have to travel to one place like the capital when some are not able.”

Six provinces have so far held their finals while Harare, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West and Mashonaland East were set to jointly host an event yesterday.
The final — to be hosted in Bulawayo for the first time in the history of MTZ — is expected to display a high level of professionalism to ensure glitz and glamour in both the build-up and grand finale despite the absence of funds.

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