TOP model Tania Tatenda Aaron yesterday said Zimbabwe’s absence from the Miss Universe global pageant had robbed local models of an opportunity to showcase their beauty on the universal stage as well as effectively market the country as a tourist destination of choice.

BY FREEMAN MAKOPA

Zimbabwe has not competed in the pageant since 2002 with Tsungai Muskwakwenda being the last representative in 2001.

Aaron bemoaned the state of affairs after her enquiries made her understand that Zimbabwe was scrapped from the pageant after it was slapped with sanctions by the international community at the behest of the United Kingdom and United States over its bloodstained human rights record.

“I asked some mentors and they told me we don’t have Miss Universe because of sanctions, which really breaks my heart. The platform is all about empowering and celebrating a woman,” she told NewsDay Life & Style.

“I have sent quite number of emails to the Ministry of Tourism and Iam still patiently waiting for their responses and after this pandemic, if it means spending days waiting in their offices to talk to them I will do it.”

Aaron said some countries were enjoying the best of the modelling world with a raft of global pageants including Miss Universe, Miss International, Miss Supranational and Miss Grand.

“I believe it’s time for our government never to take the pageant platform for granted and support us as much they can,” she said.

“It’s time for Zimbabwe to take up space and let us queens be seen. At the end of the day, it’s all about empowering women and giving hope to the hopeless.”

Aaron said a pageant like Miss Universe would bring significant benefits to Zimbabwe, including opportunities to market the country and attract investment.

“It puts our country on the map. At one time I was in Philippines and people were asking me where on the planet is Zimbabwe? It was like a full-time job explaining to them,” she said.

Zimbabwe, however, blew a golden opportunity to have the sanctions lifted after President Emmerson Mnangagwa swept to power on the back of a military coup that ejected the late former strongman Robert Mugabe from office in November 2017.

Although the international community was ready to overlook the coup and give Zimbabwe a new lease of life, the Harare administration’s failure to implement its election promises has increasingly turned away the international community and frustrated hard-pressed citizens.

Although the COVID-19 outbreak posed a lot of challenges to Aaron’s career, she insisted that being an ambassador for different companies had helped her earn an extra income.

Meanwhile, Aaron said she was disappointed that her planned trip to Indonesia in November had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent lockdowns that have limited non-essential travel.

“However, being an ambassador for different companies has helped me because I am still working and earning extra income as well as doing shoots,” she said.

“Sponsorship, however, is a major problem because people still don’t appreciate pageants in Zimbabwe and we are hardly respected or seen as important people.”

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