Zimbabwe Tourism Autority chief executive officer, Karikoga Kaseke has had to defend the appointment of Tourism minister Walter Mzembi’s wife, Barbara after the authority was accused of nepotism. Barbara was appointed, as Tourism Zimbabwe patron in 2014, but eyebrows were raised, as some felt the minister may have used his clout to influence her appointment.
Kaseke dismissed reports that she had bulldozed her way into the influential position.
Speaking at the rebranding of the Miss Carnival to Miss Tourism 2016 at a local hotel in Harare, Kaseke said the authority had invited Barbara in 2014 and she accepted just as Mary Chiwenga, who was invited to spearhead Miss Zimbabwe World, had.
“We invited her. We had agreed with her to be our patron, contrary to all those unfounded reports that she bulldozed her way. We invited her to come and help us and she decided to rebrand it,” he said.
In spite of the controversy, Barbara said they realised the Miss Carnival brand had lost its gloss following its association with an inappropriate dress sense.
She said Miss Carnival would now be known, as Miss Tourism Zimbabwe and was to be held under the theme Beauty Above and Beyond.
“We have noticed that there is a gap between the implications of a carnival and the cultural beliefs in Zimbabwe. The name Miss Carnival did not really represent the goal of the pageant, which is to find a true tourism ambassador for Zimbabwe,” she said.
Meanwhile, Kaseke donated $10 000 towards the administration of the pageant, while Mzembi bought a necklace for his wife that was auctioned for $500, as part of the pageant’s fundraising efforts.
Barbara said she had come up with a model that would address what happened in the past and wants the pageant to sustain itself.
“I have sat down with people, who used to do and those who are still doing pageants, so that Miss Tourism Zimbabwe can be the dream of every Zimbabwean girl. We will also be working with modelling agencies, since they have the eyes,” she said.
“Miss Tourism Zimbabwe contestants do not necessarily have to be tall and slim. All races, backgrounds and shapes are welcome, as our main focus is their ability to represent our beautiful country to the world.”
Barbara said in their efforts to shift and return the beauty pageantry to the esteemed position it once held. They were advocating for transparency and professionalism in the management of the pageant by inviting independent bodies.