Zimbabwe: All Eyes On Nokutenda At Miss World Pageant, but . . .

29 February 2024

Forget about the scandals, hullabaloo, nepotism and confusion at the local pageantry. All eyes are now on Nokutenda Marumbwa at the Miss World show in India.

Forget about how and which title she is holding locally -- Miss World Zimbabwe or Miss Universe Zimbabwe. Yes, of course, the 20-year-old was voted first princess at Miss Universe Zimbabwe 2023, and that is the title she is still holding.

Last week social media went agog with some model gurus and fanatics posing questions over how all of a sudden Marumbwa is now competing as Miss World Zimbabwe.

This came after her image wearing a sash inscribed, 'Miss World Zimbabwe', circulated on social media, with many left confused on what was taking place.

Was she crowned privately?

And, is she still Miss Universe Zimbabwe 2023, first princess, or was she dethroned?

Facts are stubborn, but as a matter of fact, the talented model needs support and everyone should rally behind her.

Days after Marumbwa left the country and checked into bootcamp in India, she was dominating the news.

Marumbwa has landed her spot in the top 40 at Miss World ahead of the crowning ceremony on March 9 in India and this came as a result of winning the top five spot, at the head-to-head challenge.

Checking the Miss World pages social media, Marumbwa has been dominating with her eloquence, beauty, charisma and intelligence. From the looks of things, she is a strong contender on the world stage. If she brings the crown home all the dust will settle as the nation will celebrate the achievement. If she does not make it, tough luck on her as the saga will continue, but this is not healthy for the industry.

What is needed is to accept that Zimbabwe is back at the Miss World stage after five hiatuses.

The country last participated at the world stage in 2019, when the then-reigning queen Belinda Potts went to the global stage.

Soon after, there was no pageant due to some conflicts between license holders and bad logistics. Potts confirmed that she is no longer Miss World Zimbabwe.

"There is a new queen in town and I am happy for her. I am no longer the reigning queen but former Miss World Zimbabwe queen. Noku is doing a good job. Please ask the current pageant directors," she said as she provided details of the new directors of the pageant.

Coming from the background of Miss Universe Zimbabwe, it seems Marumbwa has a high chance of raising the country's flag.

Already, she is a gem.

Close sources said local organisers picked her for the Miss World because they were running out of time to find a girl to represent the country at the world pageant after getting the license just before the event.

Besides, there was no time for much preparations, let alone to host a pageant to represent the country.

What was needed was a polished gem. Contacted for comment, Miss Universe Zimbabwe, Tendai Hunda, said they agreed with the sole organisers of the new Miss World Zimbabwe to use Marumbwa to represent the country.

"They asked for her and we agreed," she said. "We gave her prizes for Miss Universe Zimbabwe; we do not owe her anything. She is still our baby and she is doing a national duty, we should support her.

"We are so proud of her and for the other alleged Miss World Zimbabwe drama issue, we are not involved and I can't comment. We know Marumbwa is Miss Universe Zimbabwe's first princess."

Modelling gurus were praising Marumbwa for the step she has taken, but queried the organisers on their professionalism.

"This is a world pageant and how come it was not announced? It will end up being dubious, confusing and like nepotism. I got to know about her when I saw an article on social media that she is in India. We know her as a first princess and how prepared was she for the world stage," said one modelling agent, who commented anonymously.

"But with all this hullabaloo, if Marumbwa brings the crown home, will all these infectious squabbles be brought to the table or everyone will celebrate?"

Last week, the new organisers of the pageant released a statement that the pageant was now under the new hands of Patience Lusengo.

The letter provided to this paper signed by Miss Zimbabwe Trust, Crispen Sachikonye (Trustee) states that; "To Whom It May Concern, The Miss Zimbabwe Trust is interested in transforming the Miss Zimbabwe Pageant so it aligns with national values and continues to deliver on its mission.

"After some consideration, the Trustees are appointing Patience Lusengo to the Miss Zimbabwe Trust Committee to manage and direct the Miss Zimbabwe Pageant in 2024 and 2025."

Sachikonye said Lusengo's duties will include hosting the pageant, sourcing sponsorship, and managing partnerships.

"She will report her progress to the trustees. Patience has 28 years of experience in the world of pageantry where she has been the owner of Miss Zimbabwe International which was inaugurated in 2000," he said.

"During her time overseeing the pageant, it has become one of the most prestigious and most looked forward to pageant on the calendars of Zimbabweans living all over the world. The pageant is held in all the major countries around the globe and in Zimbabwe.

"Additionally, she has owned Noir Models since 1998, a modelling agency that is a major player in the local and international entertainment market, and interacts continually with modelling agencies/entertainment companies all over the world, for new faces, new artists, and trends."

Sachikonye confirmed that Lusengo holds the license for Miss Zimbabwe World, Miss Teen International, and Miss International.

"We can attest to Patience's expertise and value in this industry and have no hesitation in recommending her to anyone wishing to work with her in a professional capacity. We believe that Patience would greatly add to the mission of Miss Zimbabwe," he said.

Earlier, the new organisers of Miss World Zimbabwe said they had no time to hold a pageant to crown the winner to represent the country on the world stage. "We got the license late and we had no choice, but to select Nokutenda to represent us. I know some would say why wait until 2025 but after getting the licence the world pageant side would think we are not ready or confused," said an insider in the pageant who commented on anonymity.

No communication was announced on the new developments, with the letter only released two days before Marumbwa left for India.

Research has shown that it is allowed for a girl to take part on a global stage if she is a princess or any finalist considering she is backed by her agency or pageant she entered.

Only a reigning queen can not do double duties, for example, Miss Universe Zimbabwe queen Brooke Bruk went to Miss Universe, and she can't go to Miss World.

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