BULAWAYO – The third edition of the African Influencer Awards, held recently in Bulawayo, has come under scrutiny as artists and nominees have accused the event’s organizers of favoring certain award recipients, sparking controversy in the local arts and social media community.
The awards ceremony, hosted at Impala Car Rentals along Khami Road in Bulawayo, was anticipated as a celebration of excellence but ended up being marred by disappointment and allegations of award-buying and vote-rigging.
Pardon Khanye, an award nominee vying for the “Excellency in the Fashion Industry” award, expressed his dissatisfaction with the night’s winners and the transparency of the awards.
Khanye even walked out during the event.
He commented, “I was very disappointed with the winners of the night. Even in other categories, individuals with fewer than 2,000 followers on social media received awards.
“The organizers might have done their research, but it did not make sense to me that someone with over 20 comments on their posts would lose an award.”
Khanye’s sentiments were echoed by several artists who questioned the nomination of Tafadzwa Sibanda, known as Taffielynn, who has previously faced controversy regarding her recognition at the Zim Stars Awards.
Many artists believe that she has made limited contributions to the arts industry beyond sharing her photos on social media.
An anonymous artist at the event commented on the seating arrangements, suggesting that it became evident who would win, with favored nominees placed separately at “mbingas” tables.
Khanye also criticized the awards organizers for requiring nominees to pay for attending the awards ceremony.
He remarked, “In the future, I think the nomination process and the awards themselves should involve proper research.
“It doesn’t make sense for a nominee to pay to be celebrated. The awards are meant to celebrate great work done by these individuals, and it is illogical for someone to pay to be honoured.”
African Influencer Awards surge ahead
Despite the controversy, Khanye acknowledged that the event’s setup, reception, and catering were commendable.
The red carpet was a highlight of the evening, and the quality of the catering received praise.
The awards ceremony featured Moris Touch as the host, with Soulmates actor Braydan Moyo serving as the red-carpet producer and co-host alongside Shadel Noble, Methembe Ndlovu, and Atipa Busuman.
The event saw many artists and socialites from Bulawayo dressing up for the occasion, and guests enjoyed music, dining, and drinks.
Among the award winners at the event were Mercy Mabiza, the founder of Royalty Skin Care, who received the “Excellence in the Beauty Industry” award, and Maxine Tekere, a senior leader of Young Women for ED who contested for a council position in Bulawayo during the August 23 elections and was awarded for “Community Service Excellence.”
Marcel Mbongeni Nxumalo, a former Iyasa dancer turned fitness instructor, was recognized as a runner-up for the “Sport Excellence” award.
The controversy surrounding the African Influencer Awards 2023 has raised questions about the selection and evaluation process of award nominees and winners, as well as the future of such awards in Bulawayo’s vibrant arts and influencer community.