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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How things fell apart at Miss Uganda

SOURCE: Daily Monitor By Jacobs Seaman Odongo
When crowning the new queen, during the Miss Uganda 2010 pageant finals at Imperial Royale Hotel last Saturday, all eyes were on Hezyme Nansubuga, the eventual winner. However, what many in the audience did not know was that the announcement did not only leave a wedge between the organisers and the judges—but has also left the organising group trading accusations—ranging from claims of bribery to extortion.
Mr Allan Kasujja, one of the judges, opened the lid on Saturday evening, when he told the media that Ms Nansubuga was far from the person the assessors had found fit for the crown.
JUDGES: Mr Kananathan, Ms Piloya and Mr Kasujja.
Not judges’ choice
“We didn’t pick her (Nansubuga). We picked Number 12 (Aisha Nagudi),” he said at the end of the contest. Ms Monica Kasyate, another judge, said, “It is true,”—affirming Mr Kasujja’s claim.
Ms Nagudi did not even make it to the top three.
Addressing the media later, Ms Joyce Church, the organiser of the beauty pageant, pointed an accusing finger at a different corner—Ms Dorothy Mwima—the event’s spokesperson. According to Ms Church, Ms Mwima had received a Shs2.6m bribe to fix the crown. It’s Ms Mwima, the 2008 Miss Uganda, who handed over the crown to Ms Nansubuga, because last year’s winner, Maria Namiiro, who left the country after her crowning, has never returned from the UK.
But speaking to Daily Monitor on Tuesday, Ms Mwima said there was more to the drama than meets the eye. In a distraught tone, she told Daily Monitor she had received Shs500,000 from Carol Serwada, a friend who was also contesting.
“I was just a spokesperson. How can a contestant bribe me to fix the crown when I don’t have influence?” Ms Mwima asked. “Can Shs500,000 fix such a coveted crown? The money I got from Carol had nothing to do with the pageant. In fact I have paid back the money.”
Ms Mwima says Ms Serwada, who lives in Norway and holds a Norwegian passport, upon learning of the pageant contacted her for details. “I then approached Church, who told me Carol had to go through the auditions like everybody else. And that’s what happened.”
She adds, “Along the way I got a problem and asked for money from Carol, not as a contestant but as a friend. When I did this, Church was aware.”
Daily Monitor saw a text message on Ms Mwima’s phone from Ms Church sent at 12.17pm on September 21, confirming that she had got Shs500,000 from Ms Serwada and would pass it on to her (Mwima).
When contacted yesterday evening, Ms Serwada, who was flying out of the country, confirmed giving Ms Mwima the money. “It was a loan, she said. “It had nothing to do with the crown.”
The smokescreen
Ms Mwima argues that Ms Church used the Serwada issue as a smokescreen. “She was bent on handpicking a winner. In fact, what people don’t know is that two judges pulled out after Ms Church kept badgering them to ensure a certain contestant wins.”
According to Ms Mwima, it was after these two (a Kenyan beautician and a Ugandan resort beach owner) had pulled out that Mr Vilupilai Kananathan, the CEO Imperial Group of Hotels, and Fyonar Piloya were co-opted to join other judges Mr Kasujja and Ms Kasyate.
According to Ms Mwima, minutes to announcing the winner, she pleaded with Ms Church to respect the judges’ decision.
“Her mind was made up. She sent Diana Alinafe, another member of the organising team, to announce Nansubuga as the winner.” But speaking to journalists after the disputed results were announced, Ms Church said, “What you [the press] don’t know is that we awarded points at the boot camp to the contestants and these points were tallied to what the judges have tonight, to come up with the eventual winner.”
Concerned about beauty
She added, “The problem is that the audience is more concerned about beauty yet we look at more than just that, and so when their favourite doesn’t win, they cite fixing.”
Since then, Ms Church has failed to pick our calls or return them. One thing is clear though. A pageant meant to capture the best of beauty and brains has turned into a mine of controversy.


Nsubuga Ronnie said...

The question is one,Do you think that this is still going on .is this beauty contest safe

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