Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, who is being accused of being a Zanu PF apologist by the breakaway Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), also joined officials from President Robert Mugabe’s party as a “guest”.
The military also played a key role in the crowning of the winners.
The theme of the event was “Promoting Peace through Tourism” and it came as Zanu PF has unleashed violent thugs on the people, who are looting property and beating up innocent citizens.
The Miss Tourism Zimbabwe finals were delayed by nearly three hours as organisers waited for the arrival of politicians who were to crown the winners.
The programme, which was penciled to start at 7pm on Saturday, could only start at 9.45pm. The packed Harare International Conference Centre, (HICC) was bombarded with South African kwaito and ragga disco music, while waiting for the politicians to arrive.
There was relief after the pageant’s Master of Ceremonies Tichafa Matambanadzo and Bridget Gavanga finally appeared on stage to announce: “Our guests have finally arrived, so we can start.”
Besides Mutambara, the other unapologetic “guests” who delayed the event included the Minister of State and Security in the President’s office, Sydney Sekeramayi; Minister of Youth, Indigenisation and Empowerment, Savior Kasukuwere; Minister of Tourism and Hospitality,Walter Mzembi; Senate President, Edna Madzongwe and Harare Resident Minister David Karimanzira.
As a result of the delay, the winners were finally announced around 2am the following day.
The recent involvement of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, (ZTA) which has taken over the running of the Miss Zimbabwe beauty pageant, has seen political interference increasing and the beauty contest’s glamour dwindling.
ZTA’s chief executive officer, Karikoga Kaseke is a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Communications and a self-confessed Zanu PF cadre. His involvement has raised eyebrows as he is now using the Miss Zimbabwe event to boost the country’s tourism, as the pageant provides a public relations window for the government.
The participation of the Zanu (PF) politicians has raised concern that the social event has been taken over and is no longer the same when it was won on merit by the likes of Angeline Musasiwa and Shirley Nyanyiwa, among others.
The politicians crowned the eventual winners and the army band was at hand to provide music, while uniformed personnel accompanied the winning girls.
While there were eight beauty queens from African countries present at the finals who could have done a better job by crowning the winners, the ZTA decided to use politicians instead. Ministers Sekeramayi, Kasukuwere and Mzembi were accompanied by their wives as they crowned the winners.
Kiki Divaris, a longtime member of the Miss Zimbabwe Trust and organizer of the Miss Zimbabwe pageant, was present during the finals but her role was reduced to just being a guest as the ZTA ran the show.