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Court halts Miss Tourism Kigezi pageant over management feud

Some of the contestants

Some of the contestants

Rukungiri High court has halted the 2024/25 Uganda Miss Tourism Kigezi pageant over a management feud.

Organized by Miss Tourism Uganda-Pearl of Africa, the 9th edition of the competition, aimed at promoting the region's tourist attractions, had been scheduled for July 15 at Immaculate Heart Girls Nyakibale in Rukungiri district.

The injunction follows a sharp disagreement between two tourism-promoting entities: Miss Tourism Uganda-Pearl of Africa and Miss Tourism Kigezi. The pageant had already attracted 10 participants from the districts of Kabale, Kisoro, Rubanda, Kanungu, Rukungiri, and Rukiga.

The feud began on April 20 when Faith Ainembabazi the proprietor of Miss Tourism Kigezi and northern regions, sacked Lucky Zakia from heading the Kigezi region and Gloria Alele from heading the northern region. Zakia was replaced with Claire Atwongyeire while Kotina Akot replaced Alele.

However, Zakia refused to step down and continued to conduct the pageant activities under Miss Tourism Uganda-Pearl of Africa on behalf of Miss Tourism Kigezi. Zakia also attended the launch of the pageant in Rukungiri district in May this year.

This led Ainembabazi, through her lawyer Jonathan Bwagi of Bwagi & Company Advocates, to petition the court for an injunction. In civil application number 22 of 2024, Ainembabazi claimed that Zakia had no legal mandate to participate in the pageant under the Miss Tourism Kigezi brand. Ainembabazi also requested the court to compel Zakia to pay her general and punitive damages.

Oliver Nantamu, acting assistant registrar of the Rukungiri High court, halted the pageant until the main suit is heard and determined by the court. The court also ordered Zakia and Miss Tourism Uganda-Pearl of Africa to stop running the pageant, including the ongoing online voting and advertisements promoting the event. 

The court based its decision on the fact that the ongoing promotion and online voting were causing confusion and damaging Ainembabazi’s goodwill. Additionally, Zakia and Miss Tourism Uganda-Pearl of Africa were ordered to pay Ainembabazi's court costs.

Speaking to our reporter after the court session, Bwagi welcomed the ruling, saying it would help resolve the confusion and disagreements between both parties. Efforts to get comments from Zakia and Miss Tourism Uganda-Pearl of Africa were futile, as none of their representatives were present in court.

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