Barbara, the wife of Tourism minister, Walter Mzembi, is at the centre of a storm following allegations that she used her husband’s influence to get appointed into a hospitality position.
She was in 2014 appointed Tourism Zimbabwe patron by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) that is headed by Karikoga Kaseke.
The appointment provoked complaints that she had bulldozed her way into the organisation since her husband is the responsible minister.
Zimbabwe is considered one of the most corrupt countries in the world and public appointments are dogged by allegations of nepotism and bribery.
Kaseke was this week forced to defend the appointment at the Miss Carnival to Miss Tourism 2016 at a local hotel in Harare.
The ZTA chief executive officer said Barbra had been invited by the authority.
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.
Mzembi’s wife also spoke at the ceremony, saying there was need to rebrand the Miss Tourism Zimbabwe pageant, formerly Miss Carnival.
“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.
“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 added.
She said Miss Tourism Zimbabwe contestants did not necessarily have to be tall and slim, adding that “all races, backgrounds and shapes are welcome, as our main focus is their ability to represent our beautiful country to the world.