The Sunday Mail
MISS Zimbabwe-USA, Thelma Manyika, has turned her back on Miss World Zimbabwe as she feels the organisers deliberately shut her out of the pageant.
Miss World Zimbabwe was held at a luxurious ceremony in the exclusive Borrowdale Brooke enclave in Harare where film and acting student, Chiedza Mhosva, was crowned winner.
In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Mail Society last week, Manyika said she was not interested in taking part in next year’s edition of the pageant, as offered by Miss Zimbabwe Trust, but rather would try her luck at Miss Tourism Zimbabwe.
This follows the 21-year-old’s nightmarish trip to Zimbabwe a few weeks ago hoping to compete at Miss World Zimbabwe pageant, only to be rebuffed by the organisers. The USA-based beauty went on to accuse Miss Zimbabwe Trust spokesperson Tendai Chirau of not being a good communicator despite him being charged with the trust’s communications.
“I was told that I would be part of the Miss World Zimbabwe finalists on May 27, the night I won the USA pageant and we actually started preparing for the national event,” said Manyika, adding, “The only problem was that we did not have enough information as Tendai Chirau kept on saying we would be furnished with the details as soon as the information was available. I had exams but I wanted to have them moved, which is why I wanted to know the dates I was expected to be in boot camp.”
The Miss World hopeful then received a message on July 7, informing her that she was supposed to be in boot camp the following day, an impossibility considering the 14 000km journey from the USA to Harare.
“They only got to tell me on the 7th that I was supposed to be in boot camp the following day, which was impossible. I feel like there was a lot of miscommunication between us and people from Miss Zimbabwe Trust because even when we asked for the list of things that were expected for the boot camp, we did not get anything until the very last minute.
“If I had been told earlier, maybe in June or even on the 1st of July, I would have made it for the boot camp because I bought my ticket on the 5th of July for the 16th since I thought it was okay for me to join the camp around that time.”
Manyika said after making the over 16-hour journey from the USA to Zimbabwe and being told she could not participate, she felt “devastated” and “frustrated”. She was told that joining camp on the day she was to arrive would be unfair to the other girls and it would be difficult for her to catch up on the stuff that they had been doing.
“I was actually devastated, it was frustrating because I had gone through preparations and I was ready to be part of the pageant.
‘‘Then they just started changing their minds last minute, acting like they are confused, as if they had not been communicating among each other with one person saying something and another saying something else,” lamented Manyika.
“For some reason, everyone seemed to forget that this was more to do with the models and not the patrons. If I was going to be late, that was on me, if I was not going to catch up, that was on me not on anybody else.
‘Oh no you are not going to catch up so you will not be successful’, but that was for the judges to decide.”
Manyika has decided to snub the offer by Miss Zimbabwe Trust to participate in the event next year.
“I might actually be interested in Miss Tourism. Later this year I might be participating in Miss Africa USA but for Zimbabwean pageants I will be more interested in Miss Tourism.”
Chirau, the Miss Zimbabwe Trust spokesperson, however, contradicts Manyika’s version of the story as he says the trust was in constant communication with organisers of the pageants from the UK and USA.
“We were constantly communicating with the pageant organisers from the USA and UK through emails and WhatsApp. The arrangement was that representatives would attend boot camp in the same manner as the locals,” explained Chirau.
He said contestants from abroad had been scrapped from the programme after failing to meet boot camp deadlines.
“As a matter of fact, contestants from the diaspora were given a deadline to be in the boot camp by the 6th of July 2017. The deadline was not adhered to, the trust extended the deadline more than three times and it was not met again.
“Miss World Zimbabwe boot camp commenced on 3 July 2017 and after the diasporas failed to meet our deadlines, the trust resolved to give them a chance next year considering that local contestants had already covered a lot of ground in our three-week long camp.”
He added that the trust treated all contestants equally regardless of where they came from, highlighting that drafting the foreign based contestants a week before the final would have disadvantaged those already in the camp and also disrupt the flow of activities.
“Further, Miss Zimbabwe Trust takes seriously the boot camp activities for they include a number of important activities which fully prepares the finalists to the final event.”
Meanwhile, Chirau says they are confident the current Miss World Zimbabwe will represent the country well and pleaded to the masses to support her.
“She has the capacity to lift the country’s flag high, she is an all-rounder.
‘‘Our plea to the generality of all Zimbabweans is to rally behind the girl child as she undertakes this journey not to represent herself but Zimbabwe.”