BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
Model Chipo Mandiudza’s career was thrown into mayhem as she was stripped off her crown just few hours after she was controversially crowned Miss Tourism Zimbabwe (MTZ) after images of her posing in the nude were splashed on social media.
In a controversial act that sent tongues flapping in the pageantry industry, the 21-year-old, Mandiudza was hand-picked without going to the contest and crowned the MTZ queen last Tuesday night at a ceremony held in Bulawayo.
She was set to represent Zimbabwe in the Miss Tourism International that will be held virtually on December 15.
After her nudes flooded the digital space, pressure mounted on the pageant organiser and licence holder, Sarah Mpofu-Sibanda and her board is said to have pressured Mandiudza to relinquish the crown to protect the image of the pageant.
In an interview with Standard Style, the MTZ chairperson and former top model, Sibusisiwe Dube confirmed that Mandiudza did the honourable thing to relinquish the title.
“After her pictures emerged, there was no need for me to really comment further because she made our job easier as she stepped down on her own. Miss Tourism Zimbabwe remains a pageant that respects human kind and we cannot be associated with some of the things that can damage our brand,” she said.
“As you know that it’s an ongoing pageant and we would want to keep crowning people who come from different backgrounds, especially those from Christian background, and all so it’s unfortunate that we had to let her go.”
Dube said she would advise on what decision they are going to make.
“If we are going to crown another queen or we are going to just hold a show, will advise you, but for now she [Mandiudza] is no longer Miss Tourism Zimbabwe,” she said.
Part of the controversial judge’s panel that had decided to hand-pick Mandiudza included former beauty queens and businesswoman, Lorraine Maphala-Phiri, Nokuthaba Sibanda Manungo, Sibusisiwe Dube, who is also the chairperson of MTZ, an internationally acclaimed model based in Germany, Marble Nyathi and Godfrey Koti, a model who is currently the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority spokesperson.
In defending their controversial crowning of the dethroned queen, Mpofu-Sibanda had told our sister paper NewsDay Life & Style that they had to choose a queen without hosting a contest due to pressure from Miss Tourism International.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has had an adverse impact on all industries and the beauty, fashion and modelling industry has not been spared. In an all-fairness gesture, we decided to give a first refusal offer to the 2019 finalists. Consideration and engagements done, only a few responded with some unfortunately having reached the cut-off age, some married or engaged and others now mothers,” she said.
On the other hand, Mandiudza had said it was her dream to get an opportunity to represent the country on a global ramp.
“I am overwhelmed, confused, happy and nervous. A lot of emotions are running within me. When I got the news that I was the chosen one, I was shocked, but I thought that it was my time now,” she said.
“It has always been in mind that one day I will achieve the spotlight and an opportunity to represent my country on a global stage. It was something that I had been praying for, finally I have got it and will use it to make an impact in the lives of the youth.”
The formbook of professional beauty pageants associated with glitz and glamour continued to be torn into shreds as nudity in pageantry has tainted the country’s modelling industry.
Questions have, however, arisen whether the trend of taking photos in the nude by models is just part of a streak of naughtiness or part and parcel of a trade in which having shots in tiny bikinis is often acceptable.
In 2016, one of country’s finest beauty queens, Malaika Mushandu, had her hitherto impeccable track record stained after some of her pictures in the nude were leaked into the public through social media.
Another top model, Emily Tatanga Kachote, who was crowned Miss Zimbabwe in 2015, also had her nude pictures leaked in the public through social media platforms.
A founder of a top Models agency expressed disappointment over the unbecoming behaviour of some of the local models.
“There is need to bring professionalism to the modelling sector, models must be well scrutinised if they are to participate at any pageant to avoid tarnishing the image of the pageant. Remember, not everyone is a model. Some call themselves models yet they are not,” he said.
Another renowned model and model agency founder said models were supposed to uphold local culture and moral values.
“These ladies should know that being a model is no different from taking an ambassadorial role in a society. They should always behave like representatives and adhere to desired ethics,” she said.