SOME models who participated in the inaugural Face of Kariba 2015 on December 20 have made sensational claims that the pageant organiser Alois Chimbangu sexually harassed them during their stay in the boot camp.
A bevy of 20 models from Harare and Kariba participated in the pageant that was held at Kariba Country Club under the theme Unveiling the Beauty of Kariba.
20-year-old Ivy Micah from Kariba was crowned the queen while Fungai Muchenje (23) from Karoi became the first princess, and Harare based duo of Carol Mandizvidza (22) and 19-year-old Pamela Chatiza were the second Princess and Miss Personality respectively.
The allegations will cement calls that local pageants have been hijacked by vultures who preyed on defenceless girls trying to earn a living through modelling.
A number of models who spoke to NewsDay requesting not to be named for fear of victimisation said prior to the grand finale, the girls were subjected to inhumane conditions.
The models took a swipe at the organisers of the pageant accusing them of unprofessionally handling the event as they were continuously pestering them for sex.
“Face of Kariba was the worst pageant I have ever participated in my modelling career. The boot camp was marred by abuse and during our stay we were sexually assaulted, but I stood my ground and turned down Alois’s sex request,” one of the models said.
Another model added: “We were ill-treated during and after the boot camp. Girls from Harare were labelled prostitutes after they refused to offer sex in return for the crown.
Contacted for comment, Chimbangu declared war on the models whom he accused of being unprofessional rushing to the media instead of engaging him.
“There was nothing like asking for sexual favours from the models who participated at our pageant. Those girls, who approached you are trying to seek relevance after losing and I know where it is coming from,” Chimbangu said.
“I have unfinished business with Milton Makazhu, who gave us 10 models from their Harare agency and he wants to tarnish my image. I am yet to settle a $50 balance having paid him $100 for the models as he had charged $15 on each model to be released and participate at the pageant.”
NewsDay is reliably informed that the pageant organisers are even struggling to pay the winners as the sponsors who had promised to chip in disappeared at the last hour which Chimbangu confirmed.
A close source to the goings, who spoke on condition of anonymity said the organisers had certain girls (names supplied) whom they wanted to win, but when the mission failed, they started shifting goal posts on prizes.
“From the beginning, the models were told that they were going to get their prizes soon after the event, but until today (yesterday) they are yet to receive the prizes because their girls did not emerge winners,” he said.
One of the winners said: “We were supposed to get our money on December 28, but Alois is not co-operating with us and he continues playing hide and seek with us telling more stories,” she said.
“Today (yesterday) we refused to attend a meeting with Alois demanding our prizes first as he told us that he wanted to address a press conference about the success of the pageant so that sponsors will release funds for us to get our prizes.”
Chimbangu confirmed to NewsDay that they are yet to pay the winners saying it was an internal arrangement that the winners would not receive their prizes at the event.
“This pageant is different from some of the pageants that you know. There are better offers than money that is in stock for our winners,” Chimbangu said.
“We requested the winners to stay behind after the event so that we can organise their prizes, but they refused saying they wanted to be with their families for Christmas holiday.”
Chimbangu said those people, who are peddling falsehoods are going to be in trouble as he was going to deal with them.
This is not the first time issues of sexual abuse as been levelled against beauty pageant organisers.
In 2007, Sipho Mazibuko accused Zimbabwe Tourism Authority boss Karikoga Kaseke of victimising her after she turned down his sexual advances.
Kaseke denied the charges saying Mazibuko deserved to be detained at a mental hospital.
She was then arrested in 2011, following claims that she accused several ministers and senior government officials of sexually harassing her.
In that same year, another model, Lungile Mathe, who had been crowned Miss Tourism Zimbabwe’s Miss Personality was dethroned and denied her prizes after allegedly turning down the sexual advances of senior politicians and government officials.
However, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority’s spokesperson, Sugar Chagonda denied the allegations saying she was dethroned because of her alleged unbecoming and uncouth behaviour which he said violated the rules and regulations of the pageantry.