One of Black Opal Face of Zimbabwe (BOFOZ) losing finalists has come out guns blazing questioning this year’s adjudication process which while organisers sigh over what they call bad losers, have promised to change the system. The national finals which were held on October 30 at Zimbali Lodge saw Chiedza Chinake crowned queen whilst Hillary Mandibaya and MunesuMunawa came out first and second princess respectively.
The criteria for BOFOZ is different from other traditional pageants; there are no height, weight or marital restrictions. Contestants should be above the age of 18 years and be of Zimbabwean nationality. The winners of the show were judged in two phases-the public vote which constituted 50 percent of the final vote, the rest of which was from the adjudicators.
“When we entered the completion they made the rules clear, the final result will be divided from 50 percent public votes and the rest from the judges. We were urged to campaign on our social media platforms but the final result didn’t tally with what was agreed upon,” said Zanele Danisa, one of the losing finalists.
Simple mathematics tells you she is onto something. How almost all three winders had the lowest votes in the first round and yet went on to clinch the titles sends out a smell that makes ‘fishy’ the understatement of the decade if not all time!
In the events leading to the crowning of Chiedza Chinaka, 24 year old Zanele Danisa who hails from Belvedere led the pack on the public voting platform with a staggering 9 254, followed by Simbiso Hazel Mutandavari who garnered 6 003 votes.
The beauties who had thought that the modelling gods had smiled upon their fate in the contest by dominating public votes were left heart broken when they failed to make it the top three which saw people with the least number of votes making it through. The winner ChiedzaChinaka got 1 567 votes, MunesuMunawa 3 053 votes and Hillary Mandibaya 1 253, sending those with high votes into suspicion mode.
“The mother of the first princess was backstage throughout the night of the finale when no one had their family members there. We did not know what to make of it. ‘To make matters worse one of the girls in the top three was told by judges that she was not meant to be part of the three so definitely there was foul play,” said Danisa.
Danisa said the organisers were defensive when they were confronted them after the pageant. “We had meetings after with the judges who defended their system and said the 50 percent voting system was not made clear,” When the 24 year old beauty, who made her maiden cat walk on the Zimbali Lodge ramp, was quizzed if she will ever take part in modelling her response was…
“That was my first and last time I am doing this. ‘A lot of people are sleeping their way into these positions. I only joined because of false transparency they sold us,”
However Black Opal’s Marketing Director Tatenda Mutseyekwa defended the pageant and adjudicators. “It’s unfortunate we have sore losers like in any other completion. It was clear that the amount of votes will get you to the final but doesn’t guarantee you a win. ‘‘A lot is considered from boot camp to the ramp- discipline, the ability to work as a team, timeliness, physical fitness and also the judges will select whoever they feel is worth representing the brand Black Opal,” said Mutseyekwa.
But the rot cannot be dealt away with at all as the voting system clearly looks and smells fraudulent. At 20c a vote, the organisers got a gross amount of US$1, 850 from Danisa alone. The winders, probably knowing something everybody else did not, sat on their laurels and did not bother with the obvious ruse that was the voting phase. With the lowest figures they romped to victory on the ramp.
And perhaps the red flag raised will fix things as the organisers have sworn to change the voting phase starting from next year. Mutseyekwa affirmed that they will make changes in the voting system in next year’s pageant. “Due to such issues next year we will only have the public voting system in the preliminary stages. The finale will be decided by judges entirely. We can’t have people with more money to mobilise voters expecting to win via the public voice,” he said.