via Miss Zim chews half a million…-Chiwenga uses own money -Demands Government support – The Sunday Mail 22 Jun, 2014 by Mtandazo Dube
The glittering Miss Zimbabwe pageant held at Mabvazuva Lodge in the capital, which saw University of Zimbabwe law student Thabiso Phiri being crowned the queen, reportedly cost at least US$560 000 to put together. The costly event was attended by about 460 delegates from different Government departments, parastatals, top companies and banks.
The black tie and red carpet event lived up to its billing in terms of glitz and glamour and was beamed live on national television for five hours.
Entertainment was provided by top performers Alick Macheso, Jah Prayzah, Suluman Chimbetu, Cynthia Mare, Apama Styles and Trevor Dongo.
Waiters and waitresses moved around the 46 tables non-stop. Sadly, only seven of these were paid for at the rate of US$3 000 per table.
Mrs Marry Chiwenga, the chairperson of Miss Zimbabwe Trust and the organiser of the show, paid for the other 39 tables through her company LaChelle Travel and four other corporate sponsors.
In an exclusive interview last week, Chiwenga bemoaned the lack of corporate buy-in for the event.
“The problem we faced is that nobody was willing to sponsor the Miss Zimbabwe pageant. They considered it a bad brand,” complained Chiwenga.
“But we decided to run it from our own pockets with the help of very few of our closest friends, who are less than five. With the help of my husband (General Constantine Chiwenga), we got help and went ahead with the event,” she said.
The Miss Zimbabwe chairperson said that only seven out of 46 tables were actually paid for by companies and individuals.
As a result, the organisers ended up inviting companies and individuals to fill up the rest of the tables at the expense of the organisers.
“After seeing that there was a slow uptake of the tables by companies, we decided to invite chief executives of top companies and some influential individuals in society and we covered the cost ourselves.
“This we did so that these executives can understand what we are trying to do. So that they can see that the Miss Zimbabwe brand is, indeed, a decent brand which their companies can be associated with,” said Chiwenga.
She said most companies on the list of sponsors had not necessarily contributed financially to the hosting of the event, some had helped in some way in the run-up to the event.
“Take, for instance, Freda Rebecca Mine, they allowed us to tour their mine with the girls while Zesa did some modifications on their power grids to accommodate our power demands and guaranteeing that there would be no load shedding at our venue. They did not give us money but we acknowledge them as sponsors. There are many companies like the two I have mentioned.”
She, however, said she hopes her team did enough to convince corporates that the Miss Zimbabwe brand is strong.
“Next year it should not be difficult. Why should Zimbabweans and Zimbabwean companies find it difficult to support fellow Zimbabweans? This is a good brand and we are confident that a bigger event next year will receive huge support from the corporate world,” she said.
Chiwenga said she expects the Government to support next year’s event which will likely have an audience of just under 1 000.
“This is a national event which was sinking into oblivion without anyone even lifting a finger.
“Now that we have resuscitated it, we expect the Government to support the event.
“Surely if Government can release money to support Miss Carnival (Carnival Queen) they can do the same for the Miss Zimbabwe pageant. We are going to engage the relevant ministry within Government and ensure that next year they are fully on board,” the former Miss Zimbabwe finalist said.
Running under the theme: “Taking Zim-Asset to Greater Heights”, the Miss Zimbabwe pageant set new standards for pageantry in Zimbabwe.
Some of the heavyweights in attendance included Mrs Chiwenga’s husband, Commander of the Defence Forces General Constantine Chiwenga, President of the Senate Edna Madzongwe, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi, Environment, Water and Climate Minister Saviour Kasukuwere (who was guest of honour), Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister Webster Shamu and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Chris Mutsvangwa, the Greek Ambassador and his wife and some Russian delegates.
Senior staff members from CBZ, FBC, Met Bank and representatives of Mbada Diamonds, Elite Car Rental, Trauma Centre, Sakunda Energy, Savannah Tobacco, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and KM Auctions were also among the delegates.
The French Ambassador was part of the panel of judges on the night.
The glitzy affair, although too pricey for most gainfully employed Zimbabweans, marked a stylish return of the Miss Zimbabwe pageant, which was last held in 2012.
22-year-old Phiri becomes the first Miss Zimbabwe under the new management.
Tendai Bongani Hunda (23) was crowned the first princess while Letwin Tatenda Chinomona was crowned second princess.
Martha Vimbai Mangwaira and Maita Kainga were crowned Miss Legs and Miss People’s Choice respectively.