eSwatini last competed at Miss Universe in 1994 when Nicola Smith, then Miss Swaziland for the year 1994, competed for the crown.

Since then, no one from this country has competed for Miss Universe and desperate please from the local beauty pageant organizers for support to join the competition have fallen on deaf ears, prompting The Bridge to ask the government what exactly is the plan for local beauty pageants and Miss eSwatini in particular.

We wanted to know not from the eSwatini National Council of Arts and Culture (ENCAC) or even the Ministry responsible but from the Hospital Hill to appreciate whether the idea of a local beauty pageant is part of a national plan with an attendant vision and what exactly is the progress so far.

We were intent on finding out if the government listens to the concerns of the Miss eSwatini organisers, where are the bottlenecks of unlocking the full potential of the industry and what is government doing to whip all the officials, ministries and institutions responsible for helping attain the national vision.

One of the Miss eSwatini finalists 

Reigning Miss eSwatini, Tania Nunn, has been a beauty queen in all but name with poor sponsorships, no local activities except obsequiously smiling for camera on those rare occasions where she is made to fawn to justify her title with no corresponding financial injection to make the entire effort worthwhile.

About three weeks ago, we asked the Government Spokesperson, Alpheous Nxumalo, for responses to this question but he referred us to his deputy, Thabile Mdluli, as he was away in the USA then. Mdluli politely asked that we send a questionnaire and she would give it to the official responsible to respond. We waited two weeks for responses and reminded them again about our enquiry.

None of the government officials, line ministries and responsible institutions came back to us. We made one last attempt and called the government spokesperson who claimed that he was on leave. He referred us to the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture as well as the eSwatini National Council of Arts and Culture.

We insisted we were not interested in those. We had read enough of their lamentations about lack of sponsorship and many of the whining on why the beauty pageant scene is failing. We insisted on a government perspective so that we can know if the beauty pageants play any national role or are part of a national agenda. Nxumalo again promised to come back to us if we shared our questionnaire.

We duly did and indicated we had waited long enough for a response. The fact that the country runs a beauty pageant where organizers complain and lament about lack of sponsorships year after year, where our local beauty Queens win pathetic prices and where we never compete on a global stage means the entire pageant long lost its relevance. Even more embarrassing is that our local queen does not even get to win a car, meaning you are likely to see a reigning Miss eSwatini hitchhiking a ride to attend a sponsored event.