The move comes amid fears that beauty queens may have been victims of sexual abuse, including rape, since 2006 when ZTA waded into the business of staging pageants.
Questions have also been raised about the credibility of the contests held since then. There is doubt as to whether previous and current winners had done so on merit or as part of an elaborate underhand exercise in which young women were offered as payment to senior Zanu (PF) officials and top government officials.
Kaseke confirmed in an interview with local media that ZTA would not play any part in organising beauty pageants, saying they only done so as part of a ‘social responsibility exercise’ when the pageant failed to stage a show the previous year.
He and ZTA have now been restricted to providing prizes for Miss Tourism, who will be the second princess within the Miss Zimbabwe pageant.
“It is important for people to appreciate what we have achieved so far. It is not correct for you to scrutinise us that much, neglecting the good that we have done. Of course we have had our flaws, but the good outweighs the failures. I know for certain that this year, no one will take it up. Even if you consult the Miss Zimbabwe Trust,” said a defiant Kaseke.
He insisted that Miss Tourism would be still be “attached to our tourism offices” and that the ZTA would give her prize money and find a sponsor to provide her with a car.
A shadowy Nigerian businessman with strong links to Zanu (PF), Chief Okeke, has been one of the financiers of the beauty pageant.
The Zimbabwean recently revealed that a Bulawayo-based beauty queen, Lungile Mathe, was dethroned as the ZTA Miss Personality after she refused to have sex with an unnamed ZTA official, Zanu (PF) politicians and business executives in Harare.
Reigning ZTA Miss Zimbabwe, Malaika Mushandu, Miss Tourism Zimbabwe, Rumbidzayi Mudzengerere and Miss Universe, Lisa Morgan, who were crowned alongside Lungile in February have already been ‘rewarded’ with a recent trip to Beijing, China.
Following our expose, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister, Walter Mzembi ordered Mathe’s reinstatement and the appointment of a gender sensitive committee led by businesswoman Marah Hativagone to run the pageant.
According to ZTA insiders, initial inquiries by the committee into the treatment of past and present beauty queens was so horrifying that they immediately stripped the ZTA of the rights to stage any beauty pageants.
In order to protect the young girls from sexual abuse, the committee decreed that the parent ministry or the Miss Zimbabwe Trust should take charge of all beauty pageants in future.
The move is also seen as a way to prevent the pressing of sexual harassment charges, including rape, against some very senior government and Zanu (PF) officials by former beauty queens.
Ironically, Lungile’s abuse was perpetrated while female entertainment journalists in the public and private media cheered her tormentors on.
After having been frustrated by Lungile’s refusal to have sex with them, some ZTA and Zanu (PF) officials hatched a plot to dethrone her and deprive her of her prizes which included a vehicle, cash and international travel.
In his letter of dethronement, Kaseke had accused Mathe of ‘scandalous affairs and abuse of alcohol’.