The controversy that has engulfed the inaugural Miss Plus Size Universe- Botswana, has now reached Office of the President (OP), Senior Private Secretary to the President, Brigadier George Tlhalerwa has confirmed.
In a brief interview with this publication this week, Tlhalerwa explained that OP has already met with the contestants, heard their side of the story and the verdict on the matter is to be made within the next few days. Top of the agenda is the leaked information confirming that the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture has indeed sponsored the pageant, information the organisers of the pageant have been denying. The Ministry is said to have sponsored the event to the tune of P10, 000.
At the core of the matter is suspicion of conflict of interest. The reigning queen, Mmangaka Coreen Tumagole, was unceremoniously dethroned and subsequently substituted by Minister of Youth, Thapelo Olopeng’s daughter, Natasha Olopeng. Olopeng is the Minister of the same Ministry which is said to be among the top pageant sponsors.
At a press briefing this week, Tumagole who was supposed to represent the country in Trinidad and Tobago on March 4th this year at an international Miss plus Size Universe, announced that she has since made her mind that she is no longer interested in the anticipated competition, owing to the current controversy.
“I have since engaged relevant authorities to deal with the matter including the Office of the President and Permanent Secretary in that Ministry, Kago Ramokate,” she said. According to Tumagole, a meeting was set between Gorata Kekgonegile who is the organiser of the event, her parents and a representative from the Regional Youth Office at MYSC. At this meeting, according to the plus size queen, Kekgonegile admitted omitting some facts to the contestants and unfairly removing her from the pageant.
“In this meeting she also admitted to willingly tarnishing my name, thus, I cannot work with her anymore,” said Tumagole. Last month a statement released by Fab Fast Collections Pty (Ltd) on behalf of the event organiser, Gorata Kekgethile and Miss Plus Size Universe Botswana, the company announced that, “Due to unfortunate circumstances that we have been aware of regarding our client, we would like to apologise to all our sponsors and supports for substituting her. Botswana shall be represented by Natasha Tshepang Olopeng who was the 2nd Princess. This decision was not based on the director but the sponsors.”
In her claims, Kekgethegile asserted that she has been communicating with the owner of the international pageant, Pearl Williams who told her that they have a weight limit of 112 kg. However the contestants maintain that she never shared such information with them before. They also claim that she has since failed to provide the e- mails as evidence to the said conversation with Williams.
In a pageant setup, should the reigning Queen be recalled, or be unable to continue with her duty, the immediate substitute is the first (1st) Princess not the second Princess. Gabby Mochudi who is 1st Princess in this case, should have taken over, but according to Kekgethegile, Mochudi cannot take up the duty as she has lost weight and does not meet the criteria.
Tumagole was dethroned because she is said to have gained weight or have failed to shed some. Over and above she is said to have failed to honour her gym requirements, let alone maintain the strict diet. On the contrary Tumagole contended that her dethroning does not make sense and the accusations levelled against her by Kekgethegile were simply an excuse to take away her crown so as to pave way for the Minister’s daughter.
Although Tumagole admitted that as per the judging criteria of the pageant gym attendances and activations were considered, it was not aimed at losing weight, but rather for health reasons. She alleged that even Natasha who has since substituted her, only came once to the gym.
When reached for comment, Kekgethegile was in no mood to discuss the saga. “Look, I am not commenting on anything regarding the pageant. I will call the press conference and let you know if anyone is going to Trinidad and Tobago,” said the fuming Natasha. Pressed further by this reporter, she said, “whether I have a comment or not is none of your business”. The international pageant is next month and the assumption is that she has to be in a better position to explain whether they are fully prepared for it or not.
While allegations are rife that Kekgethegile is currently busy preparing the Minister’s daughter to go to Trinidad & Tobago, some sponsors are said to have since pulled out after reports of favouritism and the controversy surrounding the pageant came to light. Meanwhile the Office of the President, through Brigadier George Tlhalerwa is working on a quick solution to this matter. Tlhalerwa has stated, “At the moment I can only confirm that I met with them and we are working to assist them where we can as soon as possible. I can however not dwell into the whole matter because they have not instructed me to do so.”
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