The Sunday News
SCANDAL. The word aptly describes the circumstances surrounding this year’s Miss Grand Zimbabwe beauty pageant that has seen accusations and counter accusations flying thick and fast between the licence holder and a Bulawayo girl who had been nominated to represent the country in Bangkok, Thailand in October.
Although the internationally-acclaimed show is no stranger to controversy, this one is a little more classical in that it involves allegations of love proposals and rejection.
This, according to Marble Nyathi (23) the finalist, who had been nominated from Bulawayo to represent the country at the pageant to be held on 7 October this year, at the Indoor Stadium Huamark in Bangkok, Thailand, led her to be abruptly dropped.
She accused the pageant’s official licence holder, Chris Vukani Mhlanga of unilaterally making the decision to withdraw her name from being the Miss Grand Zimbabwe representative in the prestigious event after she turned down his love proposal.
As if that is not enough, Nyathi accuses 42-year-old Mhlanga of swindling her of money, which he is reportedly refusing to pay back.
Preparations for Nyathi to take part at the pageant were under way, with a contract already in her possession, where her parents and Mhlanga had to sign to endorse their approval that she could go to Thailand.
According to Nyathi, all this came to a sudden halt when Mhlanga told her she could no longer take part in the pageant because he was beginning to fall in love with her and it would complicate things.
She said it was only after she expressed reservations on the proposal that Mhlanga came up with another excuse, that Nyathi could not participate in the pageant because her body was full of scars and would be fighting a losing battle if she took part.
A disgruntled Nyathi narrated her ordeal.
“We had auditions and during these auditions Vukani started proposing love to me. I rejected his proposals and told him it was unprofessional for him to be doing that. I also told him I would never even fall in love with him because he had first hit on my friend, who rejected him too.
He refused that I do the photo shoot saying he was beginning to fall in love with me and it would complicate things. I, however, did the photo shoot. After that he told me I was the one who was going to take part in the beauty pageant because I was good,” she said.
Nyathi said Mhlanga requested for some money so that he could buy a contract that would seal the deal and she hurriedly gave him the money because visiting Thailand was something she wanted.
“He told me to give him some money so that he could get the contract and told me it costs $200. I gave him $180 and was short with $20 but he said it was okay and he got the contract for me. I got the money quickly because I wanted to go to Thailand. All that was left was to give my parents and him to sign but after some days, I got messages from some models in Harare saying Mhlanga was now scouting for another Miss Grand Zimbabwe representative there. I was hurt because he did not tell me he no longer wanted me to represent the country. He wasted my time and money,” she said.
Nyathi said when she confronted him on why he was looking for someone else, he told her she was not good enough as her body was full of scars.
She also claims that Mhlanga asked for the contract back and on realising that a lucrative deal had officially slipped through her fingers, she asked for the money she had paid in exchange for the contract.
“I got messages from people in Harare asking me why I am no longer participating in the pageant. I was shocked because I thought all was set. I asked him about it and he did not respond. He only told me he wanted his contract back. I then told him I would give him the contract if he gives me back my money. Now he is refusing with my money and because he knows he is sending in some girls from Harare, he will use their money to get another one, so he does not really care about the one I have. All I want now is my money, which he is refusing to give me,” she said.
Quizzed about the accusations, Mhlanga rubbished the allegations and took a swipe at her.
“What that thing is saying is shallow thinking. I did not propose love to her, I am a professional person and I know my ethics. She is only a shallow attention seeker. I am in a relationship with Samantha Tshuma and all this is in the public eye so why would I do something like that which is unhealthy for our family? I have a 10-month-old baby with Samantha and I do not want to ruin our relationship,” he said.
Mhlanga admitted that he had started scouting for other models declaring that Nyathi would no longer be the Zimbabwean representative because her skin was not next to perfect.
He also said there had been a Miss Grand Zimbabwe representative before Nyathi, but the girl was young and her parents could not afford the expenses adding that Nyathi was just a second choice.
“She knew the requirements for Miss Grand; I had repeatedly announced that we needed flawless skins. We were doing these photo shoots with her and the other girls wearing denims. I nominated her and then asked her to bring her swim suit because Miss Grand is particular with that category. She brought the swim suit, went into the studio with the photographer and makeup artists only to make swim suit photo shots.
When I saw the pictures I was very disappointed. Her skin was so rough and full of scars kungani uphalwe ngerazor. We tried waxing her, polishing her up but nothing changed and I had to look for other models. I have three whom I have selected from Harare and they are coming in this weekend. I told her she was not good enough. A Miss Grand Zimbabwe finalist was there but because of finances, she had to withdraw.
Her father had hired a body guard for her and they had gone to South Africa for shopping but could not afford other expenses. Marble was second in line,” he said.
Mhlanga admitted that he owed Nyathi some money and would pay her back in due course.
“I owe her and I told her I would replace her money after I am done with my models this weekend. I will be going through a lot of expenses with the three girls so my budget is tight right now. And the contract she is talking about is not even a contract. It was just a guide for her parents to know what their daughter was doing, in preparation for the pageant.
I used a lot of my money buying products for her but nothing improved. I waxed her, bought makeup, just a lot of things to make her look a lot better and I even bought her shaving cream because she came for the shots with hair in her armpits. That is as far as I went trying to make this girl our representative. She is that careless about herself. Such a girl does not match what we are looking for,” he said.
Mhlanga also added that Nyathi even failed to recite lines for the introduction during the pageant.
“She completely failed to recite her lines for the introduction video after twenty or more takes and the cameramen asked her to go and practise. I footed all the costs from the cameraman, makeup artist, venue and time, for absolutely nothing but I get insults from her at the end of it all,” he said.