SCRAMBLE FOR GRACE’S SIGNATURE | Several dignitaries who attended the Miss Tourism Zimbabwe (MTZ) Fundraising Dinner held at the Rainbow Towers on Saturday night were involved in a bidding “war” for various paraphernalia bearing the signatures of President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace.
The invited diners scrambled for items signed by the first family which included a white cap, a yellow golf T-shirt, a set of cushions as well as a photo book for last year’s edition of MTZ.
After a protracted bidding process, the Tourism, Environment and Hospitality Industry ministry which was represented by minister Edgar Mbwembwe and his deputy Anastancia Ndlovu eventually bought a cap and a T-shirt emblazoned with the first family’s signatures for $5 500.
The 2016 MTZ photo book fetched $900 while the set of cushions bearing the Mugabes’ signatures was auctioned for $350.
The only item up for auction on the night, which did not have the first family’s signatures, was an old LP by music star Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi titled Ivai Navo which fetched $100. The person who bought the LP has been promised a dinner with Tuku.
During the dinner, the Chinese embassy pledged $600 and 200 pairs of school shoes to be donated to a school in Juru while the South African embassy pledged $300 and over 250 packets of sanitary pads. At the same event, the Chinese Federation pledged $1 000 with the ministry of Foreign Affairs pledging $500.
In addition to Mbwembwe and his deputy Ndlovu, the MTZ dinner was graced by Foreign Affairs minister Walter Mzembi, Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere’s wife, Barbara, officials from several embassies as well as several officials from the Chinese Federation.
The diners, most of whom were dressed to kill, were entertained by award-winning songstress Selmor Mtukudzi. They were also treated to a buffet menu and cocktails.
Diners had dressed to kill and before the buffet menu, guests were treated to chocolate fountains, cocktails and posed for pictures while interacting with each other.
In his keynote address, Mbwembwe hailed the pageant for uplifting the girl child.
“A lot of young girls enter the pageant insecure and afraid to voice their opinion, however, I am delighted that many leave the MTZ more confident with leadership, interview and public speaking skills.
“Let me also point out that the MTZ pageant has managed to eradicate fallacies such as sexism and sexualisation towards the girl child. The pageant is also a platform to bring awareness on problems such as child marriages, rape and prostitution,” the tourism minister said.
MTZ patron Barbara Mzembi told the diners that proceeds from the MTZ fundraising dinner will not be invested in the pageant but will be used to support various girl child initiatives in marginalised communities.
“MTZ donated some sanitary wear to marginalised girls at Juru Growth Point after noting the girls were operating without these basics.
“As a result, some of the girls absconds lessons on monthly basis due to lack of sanitary wear. However, the donation was not enough hence the need to call for well-wishers to intervene towards this noble cause,” Mzembi said, adding:
“We are thrilled by the number of girls we are impacting and lives that we have transformed in the short time since we started as MTZ. Our target is to have touched more than 5 000 girls by the fifth year. We all know the many challenges the girl child faces — early marriages to escape poverty and hardships, school dropouts due to lack of fees, missing school days because of lack of sanitary ware among many others.”
Meanwhile, the 20 finalists who will take part in the Miss Tourism 2017 on December 9 at Harare International Conference Centre were unveiled during the fundraising dinner.
The finalists, who will undergo a 15-day boot camp, include Wendy Mature, Chido Mitchelle Dika, Monalisa Dube, Elsie Moyo, Kundai Makuvise, Rufaro Chikwanha, Natalie Price, Tanyaradzwa Munyoro, Thelma Farisai Machero, Sakhile Sibusisiso Dube, Nelia Marisa, Thumelo Nare, Ashley Gonde, Belinda Patts, Nomukosi Chiname, Mazvita Chakava, Marizane Murashiki, Tafadzwa Primrose Jaricha, Melissa Tanaka, and Munesu Munawa.