Miss Zim: Glory days are back

Mtandazo Dube

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“. . . I’m going to take a beating but I’m not going to lie flat on my face,” declared Miss Zimbabwe Trust chairperson Mrs Marry Chiwenga as she prepared to welcome almost one hundred models into boot camp last week.

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Miss World Zimbabwe Trust chairperson Mrs Marry Chiwenga

Miss World Zimbabwe Trust chairperson Mrs Marry Chiwenga

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It has been a bumpy road for Mrs Chiwenga and her team since taking over the pageant in 2013 – they completely failed to host the event in their first year in charge and then the following year, they had three queens in one season.

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However, the yesteryear top model, who took over the running of the Miss Zimbabwe, now Miss World Zimbabwe at its lowest point – believes the “machine is now well-oiled and unstoppable”.

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Her inspiration, unsurprisingly, is Kiki Divaris, a modelling guru in the Rhodesian era.

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“I always say the way I’m running Miss Zimbabwe I’m living the dream that is Kiki’s. This is how she would have wanted to do it. I’m fulfilling her dream – how she would have run the pageant if she were younger and energetic like me.

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“I want to take this pageant to where it is supposed to be – to give it back its status. I will not live in fear of failure or criticism, I’m not afraid to do it. Yes, I am going to take a beating but I’m not going to lie flat on my face,” said Mrs Chiwenga.

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The Miss Zimbabwe chairperson, who took over the role previously held by the aging Kiki, who is now the pageant’s patron, says she is simply carrying on with the work started by her idol.

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She believes that she is turning the Miss World Zimbabwe pageant into an event of national significance, which this year is running under the theme “Probity”.

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“I think we will have people who have never been part of any modelling event at this year’s show.

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“We have created interest, the necessary hype and interest, people want to participate. We have several confirmed tables, yet we are still charging the USS$300 per person we introduced last year,” said Mrs Chiwenga.

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The Miss World Zimbabwe pageant, to be held at Mermaids Pool in Shamva on April 25, is set to be a black tie event and will accommodate only 600 guests.

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“We are not lowering our standards; we are actually taking them higher. A lot of effort has been put into the event – with upgrades at the venue including the road infrastructure and touch-ups to the ancient buildings,” she said.

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“A state-of-the-art stage will be erected 10 days before the event and we are going to have seven judges, that is, four ambassadors and three top business executives.”

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Mrs Chiwenga and her team have left no stone unturned in their quest to find a potential Miss World and to produce a five-star event this year. Over a month ago, the Miss Zimbabwe Trust team went around the country’s 10 provinces scouting for talent.

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Girls aged between 18 and 26, slim (no size given), 1,71 metres tall, never been married and with no children, were selected.

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And last week, a record 91 models who include three that are based in the diaspora, got into boot camp at a secret location where they will undergo rigorous coaching.

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Said Mrs Chiwenga: “This is a proper hardcore camp for those girls whose zeal and attitude is as great as they come. This is a mini Miss World. At the world stage it’s a dog-eat-dog affair – we have to adequately prepare our girls emotionally, physically and mentally.”

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The girls will see lots of action from playing soccer, long jump, marathon, tug of war and other fun games.

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“To those who are fond of saying ‘they are militarising Miss Zimbabwe’ – this is what is done at the Miss World, if you have a weakness, you do not make it.

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“That is why models at Miss World compete in dance, sport and debates before they even get to the ramp – it is to ensure that whoever is chosen to be Miss World is indeed a complete model and will do what is required – it’s tough out there,” she said.

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The first eviction for seven unlucky girls is on tonight. According to Mrs Chiwenga, seven girls will be sent packing every three days until April 17 when the organisers expect to have only 30 models in camp.

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“Eight girls will be nominated every week and only one will survive. There will be live updates on our Facebook page and everyday from April 1, there will be highlights of the boot camp on ZTV.”

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Among other things, the models will undergo civic education, catwalk, lessons on wardrobe and make-up, talent show, public speaking, debates, bake-off and cook-off competitions, and also visit the vulnerable in society.

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The models will be expected to do their own laundry and other related chores, and when visiting the orphans or the elderly, they will be expected to cook and clean for them.

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The aforementioned tasks, visits to game parks and companies, attending national events and other social gatherings, will be closely monitored by a team of experts and will contribute towards the models’ final marks.

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“Our programme of action is now clearly defined, we paid our licence with the Miss World, the response to the event this year is overwhelming – I think it’s all systems go,” said Mrs Chiwenga.

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As Zimbabwean football fans await their messiah to clean up the world’s most beautiful game, which is stuck in murky waters – the modelling industry could have found its anointed one.

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Can Mrs Chiwenga deliver the elusive Miss World crown to Zimbabwe?