The second round of selections for Miss Rwanda contestants opened this Thursday with the public required to vote via a link published on a news website – a move other competing platforms are expressing concern.
Previously, Miss Rwanda organizers had a pageant website where the public could vote for their preferred choice. For 2020, the public is to vote via IGIHE.com, a local news site.
Since the announcement on Wednesday, other news platforms are not happy. They have resorted to social media criticising the decision, and that has provoke more questions about various other aspects of the pageant.
Allegations are also emerging that one of the sponsors telecom MTN Rwanda, is pushing contestant Nishimwe Naomie who has been working with the company. Some sections of the media are also claiming that a social media campaign is being pushed by MTN in favour of Nishimwe.
In some online publications, concerns are being expressed that MTN could use its power to also manipulate the SMS voting process.
As for voting online which Miss Rwanda organiser, Rwanda Inspiration Backup, a private company with many corporate sponsors, there are mixed views from Editors we interviewed for this story.
Itangishaka Theoneste, editor of Bwiza.com, said his news site would no longee cover Miss Rwanda. “Since they have opted to work with one media, I don’t see why we should continue to cover Miss Rwanda,” he said.
Dusingizimana Remmy, editor of Umuryango site, said the organizers are a private company and its up to them to decide who they want to work with.
“Miss Rwanda has benchmarks within which it operates including the choice of media. For them to choose to work with a particular media is entirely their right,” said Dusingizimana.
For Umuhire Valentin, a seasoned and renowned journalist in the local media landscape, and owner of Value News site, says the choice of requiring public to vote from a one news platform ignoring others, is an issue that the organizers should have considered carefully.
However, he said that will not prevent his media from covering Miss Rwanda.
He said: “Previously, they used RBA (state beoadcaster). It is a problem that they opted to give tender to one media and isolated others. But as a journalist, I will continue providing news about Miss Rwanda to our readers. It is unfortunate that some media commercialise news coverage.”
Some journalists said on social media that Miss Rwanda organizers are deliberately asking the contestants not to speak to some media that have been raising questions about the pageant.
Since December, the pageant organizers conducted a national selection from 4 provinces and Kigali. The auditions resulted into selection of 54 girls.
This Wednesday, they met in Kigali with their sponsors and chose their Identification Numbers which the public will vote. Online and SMS voting opened this Thursday and there will be another selection next weekend on February 1. The girls that will pass this stage will head to the boot camp ahead of the FINALE on February 22.
The winner at the finale will get a brand-new Suzuki Swift, courtesy of Rwanda Motor, a monthly salary of Rwf800, 000 from Africa Improved Food (AIF). They will also get several other benefits from other sponsors.
The first runner-up will get Rwf1, 200, 000 from Multi Design Group, which will also provide a free air ticket to Miss Rwanda to spend her post-contest vacation in Dubai, UAE.
Miss Popularity 2020 will net Rwf1, 500, 000, courtesy of MTN Rwanda and will be the latter’s brand ambassador entire year. It is the one slot that MTN is being accused of promoting its employee Nishimwe Naomie.
The organisers while speaking yesterday dismissed all allegations.