The Mrs Botswana pageant is on its third lap but it is shrouded in cheating and mismanagement controversy by the organisers.
The pageant that was started to cater for married women has had its fair share of troubles since its inception. But this year’s pageant has raised eyebrows and made headlines in the newspapers for all the wrong reasons.
“We were told that the top seven would be announced at the finale. But to our surprise it was not the top seven but the top eight,” said the contestants’ spokesperson, Belinda Mabote at a press briefing last Thursday.
She said the arrangement was decided by the organiser. Mabote said they had a problem with the transparency of the pageant as some of the important things were not communicated properly with the contestants such as the judging criteria.
She also said the queen, Maureen Mothuba and former second princess Wame Mogotsi had problems in the question and answer sessions during the top seven competition, thus the other contestants were shocked to see them in top three whereas those who had responded properly to the questions were not.
She said when they asked about this outcome they were told that the question and answer was only worth 10% of the overall marks.
Mabote outlined some of the irregularities that the pageant had which included them having to pay a P1, 000 registration fee and then be told there were no prizes except the queens’ trip to China.
She also said they were told to source sponsors for the event if they wanted to compete for the crown and that they had also been threatened with a P2, 500 resignation fee to stay on in the pageant.
Mabote said after the pageant, the organiser, Kgalalelo Lesetedi pointed out that she had found some irregularities in the results of the pageant and called a meeting with all the contestants at the Avani hotel where it was decided that they would have
She said they had signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with Lesetedi as they had their own doubts about the outcome of the pageant after they had to change the second princess after consultations with the judges.
The contestants roped in two auditors who were tasked with examining the results of the pageant as presented by the judges.
Mabote alleged Lesetedi was supposed to be in attendance with the judges, but did not show up for the audit session and was not taking their calls when they tried to ask for the score sheets used by the judges during the pageant.
The auditors pointed out that they found errors in the judging system, but did not find any problems with the chosen top seven. Mabote alleged that Lesetedi was by time of writing this story still refusing to help them complete the auditing thus their group was looking to have a petition against the queens’ travels to China.
Lesetedi however said the complaints raised by the contestant’s spokesperson concerning the fees were agreed upon with the contestants at the beginning of the pageant.
She pointed out that the P2, 500 resignation fee was included in the contract that the contestants signed at the beginning along with a clause that says there is no guarantee of prices for the contestants. She further said that had been made known to the contestants at the beginning.
Lesetedi said her refusal to avail herself for the auditing was caused by the fact that Mabote and some other contestants had reneged on the agreement that was made concerning the auditing by going to newspapers before the issue could be addressed internally.
She said in the previous instalments of the pageant they have always had same agreements with the contestants.