This is a guest post by Boyce Sarokin.
On 8th November, Ms Sitti Mtemvu handed in her Miss Tanzania 2014 crown when allegations on social media that she had forged her birth certificate to qualify for the pageant were shown to be correct.
The organisers of Miss Umeme Tanzania, Dar-based event promoters Ventilated Improved Pit Latrines Ltd, (VIP), have strongly denied that corruption was involved in this year’s competition. Tanzanian social media are full of claims that Ms Paulina Fatma Pinduzi, popularly known as ‘Pap’, who won last month’s competition, forged her Tanzanian passport in order to qualify. In fact, it appears that she was born in Nairobi, Kenya.
In a press conference held in VIP’s office yesterday, spokesman and long-time Miss Umeme organiser Mr J B Rungumalaya strongly denied any wrongdoing: “There is no truth whatsoever in the rumour that Ms PAP does not deserve the Miss Umeme crown,” he claimed, looking agitated.
When asked by journalists to comment on Ms Pap’s Kenyan passport, a copy of which was posted on BongoForum’s website last week, Rungumalaya claimed: “This document is a forgery concocted by my enemies to rob me of the Ms Umeme franchise, which I have enjoyed for the last 20 years. Ms Pinduzi is Tanzanian born and bred. And by the way, I have incurred debts of USD 75 million to put on this very successful show, which is not vigisenti”, he fumed, claiming that most of the money had already been spent in promoting the event.
A finger of suspicion also points at the judges of the Miss Umeme 2014 competition, consisting of Dr Bono Nduluti, Chairman of the Federal Bank of the Middle East (FBME), Dr Saltpetre Mwongo, Minister of Regular Power Shortages (MRPS) and Dr Hanna Tabia Choka, Minister of Land Grabbing and Human Resettlement (MLGHR). Why, critics claim, did the judges not check Ms PAP’s credentials, which had been rumoured suspect months before the contest took place? None was available for comment by the time of going to press, although Dr Choka has already expressed her support for VIP promoter Rugumalaya, dismissing the idea that corruption was involved in the Ms Umeme competition.
If stripped of her Ms Umeme crown, Ms Pap will be barred from representing Tanzania in the forthcoming Miss Umeme Universe competition. She may also have to repay the TShs 300 billion she received in prize money from the competition’s sponsors and may also have to return the 100 MW genset generously donated by MeckMark (East Africa) Ltd.
Other sponsors of the competition include Tanzanian Taxpayers Ltd (TTL, an NGO), Sub-prime China Banking (HK) Ltd (SCB-HK), the International Independent Budget Support Group (IIBSG) Ltd., and Bold Wank Ltd (BW), a consortium of investors promoting Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) in the African beauty contest industry. SCB-HK have already denounced the contest as a hoax and are demanding that the pageant’s organisers return their money.
Contacted by this newspaper, a spokesperson for the Miss Umeme Universe organisers, the International Consortium for the Selection of Interesting Dollybirds (ICSID) said: “We are watching events in Tanzania closely: without a rapid resolution to this affair it is unlikely that Ms Umeme Tanzania will be eligible to participate in the global event for an extended period.”
The Tanzanian parliament is expected to discuss the Miss Umeme crisis in the forthcoming parliamentary session. Opposition Member of Parliament Mzito Kobe has been at the forefront in condemning Pap’s victory in the Miss Umeme Competition, claiming a conspiracy involving VIP and Ms PAP’s backers. “If this is a harbinger of how the Ms Umeme beauty pageants are going to be managed in future, then the beauty pageant industry will bring this country to its knees,” he said in an exclusive interview. “If VIP/PAP can get away with this fraudulent contest, then we can expect more of the same going forward.”