By Bongani Ndlovu
After dropping out of the Miss Tourism Zimbabwe finals two years ago because of pending law exams, Manicaland beauty Tafadzwa Jaricha re-entered the contest this year and claimed the crown on Saturday evening.
The 23-year-old beauty, who is now a practising lawyer, for her efforts walked away with the top prize of $10 000 and a Mercedes-Benz C Class at a pageant held at the Bulawayo Rainbow Hotel.
She will also receive an air ticket to the Miss Tourism World competition courtesy of United Refineries.
Jaricha shrugged off the competition from 20 other beauties drawn from different parts of the country with Natalie Mangodo (22), from Mashonaland East province being crowned first princess. Life Matunzeni (22), also from Manicaland was crowned second princess. Both princesses are set to receive $5 000 each.
Chido Michelle Nyika from Harare was crowned Miss Personality. Also representing the capital city was Maita Kainga, who was named Miss Talent.
“This (being crowned queen) was my 2016 resolution. I tried my luck then and gave it my all but sadly couldn’t participate in the national finals because I was writing my final year law exams,” narrated Jaricha just after being crowned.
“In 2017, I entered once again but the pageant was cancelled. I waited patiently for 2018 and here I am.”
Jaricha’s victory stunned former Miss Tourism Zimbabwe Caroline Marufu- Buwu, who is the Manicaland regional licence holder, as she was proud to see not one, but two of her products shining.
Before the national finals, pageants to select the top three contestants to represent the country’s 10 provinces had been held.
“I’m still pinching myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. I’m so humbled by their win. It wouldn’t have been possible without their hard work and dedication. I’m so proud of them,” said Marufu-Buwu, who also attended the event.
Miss Tourism Zimbabwe (MTZ) licence holder Sarah Mpofu-Sibanda said she was confident that Jaricha would do Zimbabwe proud on the global stage.
She said the end of Miss Tourism Zimbabwe 2018 marked the beginning of preparations for next year’s pageant.
The pageant, she said, would not be returning to Bulawayo next year as they want it to be spread across the country.
“I’m not making any promises that Miss Tourism Zimbabwe is coming back to Bulawayo. We want to try make it as national as possible by taking it right across the country,” said Mpofu – Sibanda.
A ceremony to hand over prizes to the winners will be held soon, according to Mpofu-Sibanda.