MULTICHOICE Zimbabwe has been accused of regional bias over the way it selects contestants for the Big Brother Africa TV show.
ALL eight past representatives of Zimbabwe came from Harare.
Now a Matabeleland-based group calling itself Isilo SikaMthwakazi is demanding fairness, in the same week that MultiChoice announced it was beginning the search for housemates for the show’s seventh season.
MultiChoice Zimbabwe is a subscriber management arm of M-Net, the South African analogue Pay-TV channel.
In a letter to MultiChoice Zimbabwe, seen by New Zimbabwe.com, Isilo sikaMthwakazi’s Sabelo Ngwenya said: “As you may be aware, this is the seventh season of the continent’s attention-grabbing Big Brother Africa series reality show, a great milestone indeed.
“However, we are gravely concerned by the fact that all Big Brother Africa show auditions in Zimbabwe have never produced any participant from Matabeleland.
“For the record, all the past six participants were either from Harare or members of the Shona speaking tribes. Not even a single representative has been from Matabeleland, or a member of the various Matabeleland ethnic groups.
“Is this a co-incidence or it’s just part of the well-known culture of marginalisation and discrimination against the people of Matabeleland that has bedevilled this country since 1980?”
The group demanded that “Matabeleland should as of right be entitled to send a representative to this year’s edition of the Big Brother Africa series.”
On Friday, MultiChoice Zimbabwe public relations manager Liz Dziva asked for written questions but had not responded by late Saturday.
In the first Big Brother Africa show held in 2003, Zimbabwe was represented by Harare-based public relations officer Tapuwa Mhere. He came third.
In 2004, Harare lawyer Bertha Zakeyo hoisted the flag, but became the sixth housemate to be evicted.
Munyaradzi Chidzonga represented Zimbabwe in 2005, finishing third. A year later, Itai Makumbe tried his luck but lost out in the later stages.
Next to represent Zimbabwe was ambulance technician Kristal Culverwell who went into the house with her partner, Quinn, but was evicted halfway through the show.
Munyaradzi Chidzonga returned for Big Brother All Stars in 2010, and narrowly lost in the final to come second.
Last year, the model Vimbai Mutinhiri and commercial pilot Wendall Robert Parson – both from Harare – carried the torch for their country. Wendall was named joint winner and bagged a US$200,000 cash prize while Vimbai made it to the penultimate week.
Earlier this week, MultiChoice revealed that this year’s Big Brother Africa show being held under the theme ‘Double Up’ is open only to couples – not necessarily lovers. The winning couple will pocket US$300,000 after its 91-day run.
"That other person can be a best friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, mom, dad, brother, sister, boss, husband, wife, neighbour, hairdresser... in fact, anyone,” Dziva said.
Prospective housemates must submit paper applications to MultiChoice who will create a shortlist for auditions.
Entrants should be 21 years or older, English-speaking, have a valid passport and be citizens of the Zimbabwe. The entrants should also be “tolerant of views and lifestyle choices other than their own and must have the social flexibility to live in close proximity with others, strangers, to be precise”.
M-Net has announced that Liberia and Sierra Leone will send candidates to the show for the first time, increasing the number of participating African countries to 16.