STAKEHOLDERS in the local modelling industry are pushing to professionalise the sector after years of controversies, although other players argue the spirited efforts may not yield the expected results without the involvement of the Miss Zimbabwe Trust.
Although modelling is touted for its glitz and glamour on stage, as well beauty queens seen as role models, it has often been scandal-ridden backstage. Over the past few years, some of Zimbabwe’s top models — Malaika Mushandu, Emily Tatanga Kachote, Hilda Mabu, Primrose Tshuma and Lungile Mathe — have been caught on the wrong side of the rules governing beauty pageants.
In a bid to restore the lost glory, the Modelling Industry Association of Zimbabwe (Miaz) is making concerted efforts to ensure that the scandals of the past do not recur.
The association’s spokesperson, Wilbert Rukato, told NewsDay that the industry’s players have come together after a successful meeting held on January 15, this year, where a new board comprising the old guard and new blood was elected to uplift the profession’s falling standards.
“The very best brains in the industry are now going to be tirelessly working together, setting aside all differences of business approach or opinion to concentrate on making the year 2016 the best on the modelling industry since the creation of Miaz,” Rukato said.
Following reports that there were too many models and agents in the industry operating with no boundaries and giving rise to poor standards, Rukato said stakeholders agreed over the need for all pageants and models to be registered with them.
He said this would ensure that models were properly remunerated to avoid a situation where they ended up becoming prey for sex predators that paid them handsomely.
“At the meeting, there was a unanimous decision for Miaz to be involved with each and every local small or big pageant, engage all advertising agencies, established or upcoming, and encourage them all to remunerate models fairly and timeously, and to curb the abuse of models at the hands of rogue model agencies and errant pageant promoters,” Rukato said.
He said a system had been put in place compelling all models to be registered with an agency or casting company of their choice amid concerns that lone rangers who operated as freelancers could overstep the boundaries of professionalism.
“This year we will actively be involved and support all regional and national pageants such as our very own Miss Zimbabwe 2016 by giving them access to our models who comprise of all races and creeds as we move to return glamour to this once vibrant industry,” he said.
NewsDay Weekender however, understands that there has been no consensus as other stakeholders felt that there was need to rope in the Miss Zimbabwe Trust which — under the patronage of the late modelling guru Kiki Divaris — fought to ensure that local models treaded the straight and narrow in keeping with the glossy profession’s high standards.
The stakeholders argued that Miaz had done very little over the years and it took the arrival of Miss Zimbabwe Trust chairperson Mary Chiwenga on the scene to strike the right notes when she spruced up the national pageant that had suffered significant wear and tear over the years, losing its yesteryear shine.
Veteran agent and former supermodel Mercy Mushaninga — who runs Zim Gossip Models Agency — spurned an offer to be director of model affairs in the association amid concerns that Miaz was not organised.
Chiwenga is proving to have won the hearts of many, taking it from results of her well-organised previous pageants.
“An association’s president must be someone who has a brief history of the industry. What criteria did he use to appoint people to those positions? And where is the Miss Zimbabwe Trust? Where are our modelling gurus?” Mushaninga quipped.
“How can they have an association without Miss Zimbabwe Trust? They have been silent for about 12 years and it looks like they were waiting for the death of Kiki Divaris to take over as they are coming with such appointments.”
In an earlier interview following the upsurge on nude picture leaks involving models, Mushaninga concurred that there was need for a strict code to which models had to subscribe.
“Models must be well-scrutinised if they are to participate at Miss Zimbabwe to avoid tarnishing the image of the pageant. Remember, not everyone is a model. Some call themselves models yet they are not,” she said.
Zimbabwe has, however, over the years produced high calibre models in the mould of Miss World 1994 finalist Angeline Musasiwa and former Miss Malaika Brita Masalethulini, among others, whose careers as models were a shining example of professional modelling as they were never tainted with scandals that have increasingly ridden modelling pageants in the last few years.