By Jonathan Mbiriyamveka
TWENTY-YEAR-OLD beauty from the resort town of Victoria Falls, Ashely Morgen, was at the weekend picked as Miss Tourism Zimbabwe 2016 amid confetti and all the glitterati at the packed Harare International Conference Centre.
The National University Science and Technology marketing student pulled the rag from under 14 other contestants to win a whooping US$20,000 purse, a car and a scholarship.
“Thank you so much for not tiring in supporting me and my dream.
“You repeatedly encouraged me to go on and never give up but to continue fighting. Once again, thank you,” she posted on her Facebook page soon after landing the crown.
Nonhlanhla Dube (20) was named the first princess and won US$10,000. She was also crowned Miss Agro-Tourism and received a scholarship to study in China.
In third place was Shirley-Ann Lindsay (19), who got US$5,000 and will become Miss City Tourism.
The rest of the top 10 contestants were given US$1,000 each as complimentary prizes.
But all eyes were on Morgen, who calls herself “black diamond”, a name she derives perhaps from her natural beauty both from the inside and outside.
She says she aspires to be an entrepreneur.
And with the crown to her credit, Morgen is poised for greater heights considering that the headline sponsors – Bigtime Strategic Group, an IT giant based in South Africa and headed by business magnet Justice Maphosa is specifically spearheading the empowerment of the girl child.
Certainly not her first time to take part in pageantry, Morgen has in the past won several titles including the recent Miss NUST 2016.
It appears she made it easy for the judges among them Marry Chiwenga, the Miss Zimbabwe Trust chairperson, Pamela Hakunavanhu, a well-known businesswoman, Cynthia Tapera, a marketer par excellence and Jonathan Denga, former top international top model, to decide the winner.
She oozed cool confidence and had the crowd eating out of her palms, as she went through her paces on and off the ramp.
Entertainment was provided by the energetic Dr Malinga, Busiswa, Ammara Brown and Shinsoman, among others.
The top-drawer event was attended by Dr Grace Mugabe, who also donated US$20,000 and sashayed the winners, her daughter Bona and beau Simba Chikoore, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister, Dr Walter Mzembi, and wife Barbara – who is also the patron of the pageant, Karikoga Kaseke, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority boss, South African business consortium of business people led by Maphosa and wife Vanessa.