Accusations fly as storm brews over pageant

A confusion over prizes for the Miss Eastern Cape “Beauty with a Purpose” programme has led to its current title-holder, Thandokazi Mfundisi, accusing the organisers of not being transparent.

Miss Eastern Cape 2016 Thandokazi Mfundisi Picture: SINO MAJANGAZA

The programme, which will host its auditions for the 2017-18 Miss Eastern Cape later this month was founded by East London businesswoman Zikhona Ngxata in 2015.

Ngxata said that unlike other conventional pageants, Miss Eastern Cape’s title theme of beauty with a purpose was about empowerment and development of young women. “The programme empowers young women academically, spiritually and socially, thus pulling them away from the streets to create a cadetship for change. We want them to empower fellow young people,” she said.

Ngxata said they were mobilising sponsors to give prizes of bursaries to advance education in higher institutions of learning and also provide professional help and career guidance.

In its first showing, Ngxata and her team secured the winner a car among many prizes. However, that all changed last year when there was no car prize.

“The car was a nice thing to have but unfortunately we could not get a sponsor for that.”

Mfundisi, who is a law student at the University of Fort Hare, said all she received after being crowned Miss Eastern Cape was a printer.

“The bursary was not applicable to me and we could not convert it into cash. When we asked about the prizes we were told that there weren’t enough sponsorships. Someone also mentioned something about a car, but I didn’t get that,” she said.

Ngxata disputed that Mfundisi’s bursary was not applicable saying: “She said she is doing her last year and did not need a bursary. Unfortunately it could not be converted into money.”

Mfundisi’s first runner-up, Nobenathi Ncwana, said the organiser of the event did not promise them any prizes besides the empowerment week they attended. Ncwana said the empowerment week helped her grow as a person.

“I got to learn more about life and I am able to apply some of those things in my life,” she said.

The winners were also offered job opportunities with an estate agent. Ncwana said she declined the offer to focus on her studies.

The 2015-16 winner, Zimi Mabunzi, is currently studying for an LLB at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. Her second runner-up, Aphiwe Mqunyana, is currently studying medicine at the Walter Sisulu University. They are both studying through the bursaries they received from the pageant.

Ngxata said this year’s three winners will receive bursaries for studies in maths, science and technology.

Auditions kick off at the BT Ngebs Mall in Mthatha on August 25. Aspiring models from Port Elizabeth will get a chance to audition on September 9 at the Bay West Mall. East London auditions will be held on September 16 at the Hemingways Mall. The last stop will be at Queen’s Casino Hotel in Queenstown on September 23.

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