Controversy Mars Miss Tourism Pageant

Controversy is clouding the Miss Tourism Namibia pageant with the co-organiser, Nikita Melani, and this year’s winner of the 2014 competition, Monique Smith threatening to instigate legal action against the founder and director of the pageant, Venancious Rukero.

Rukero last week stripped Smith, who was crowned last month in Walvis Bay, of her title when she apparently refused to sign a contract that would see Rukero receiving at least 40 percent of all Monique Smith’s winnings and compelling the winner to pay for some of her airfare.

Not only did Rukero strip Smith of her title but he apparently also left Melani with a bill of N$6 320 for food and drinks, which he was supposed to pay when he checked out from a local hotel after the competition.

Smith was expected to represent the country in the upcoming Miss Tourism World competition slated for December this year in Venezuela before she was stripped of her title by Rukero.

One of the conditions of the contract was she had to pay N$15 000 to Rukero as an entry fee to the international competition, while she was also expected to pay for her return tickets to Frankfurt and Venezuela. She, however, refused to sign the contract, as all her flight tickets were part of her winnings.

Smith won two return tickets but she was later also informed by Rukero that one of the tickets will go to the Miss Tourism Congo competition winner.

Melani, on her part, yesterday said Rukero never kept his end of the deal. He was expected to refund her for using her own finances for the competition.

“My work sponsored accommodation for the participants and Rukero. He only had to cater for the drinks and food for them. He ordered whatever he wanted and left me with the bill. Both MCs of the night are also still not paid. The last time I saw Rukero was at the night of the competition,” Melani told New Era.

Melani says she has all the receipts from the expenses she unnecessarily incurred and will see a lawyer today.

“We will take the matter forward. He needs to pay all the expenses, as we obtained a lot of sponsorships and also explain why Smith was stripped of the title she rightfully won,” a fuming Melani said.

Rukero last week released a statement on Facebook stating he revoked the title from Smith due to accusations made by them.

He says Smith is temporarily stripped of her title and her runner up, Asnath Humpfries from Keetmanshoop, will represent Namibia at the finals in Caracas, Venezuela, next month.

When contacted for comment yesterday, Rukero admitted Smith was stripped of her title for being unprofessional by directly contacting sponsors and for not signing the contract.

Secondly, she was removed because parents of some of the participants complained that the judges were ethnically biased. Thirdly, all the judges were apparently friends of Melani and “Melani herself was cheering for Smith, while she groomed and helped organise the competition and this made many parents unhappy. As for the bill, Melani telephonically informed me that food and accommodation was sorted,” responded Rukero.

Source : New Era