Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Tug of war over ownership of BIME intensifies

The winner of the Botswana International Model Expo (BIME), Tebatso Tshuma, got a P10 000 cheque last Tuesday as part of her P25 000 prize money.

She received the cheque at a press conference held at the Fashion Lounge where it is reported by the Daily News (Friday, January 18) that “Orange and co-sponsor, Fashion Lounge, have now taken over the arrangements and the managing director of Fashion Lounge, Dan Moskovic, has been tasked with ensuring that Tebatso gets all the support she needs in this trip.”

It was at this press conference that Colin Nawala, who is originator of BIME and event manager, had turned up to witness the handover of the cheque, only to be callously escorted out of Fashion Lounge by Dan Moskovic. Moskovic also handed out to the attending media, a photocopy of a letter from Mark Knocker of South African based-Marnox Media that stated: “After the BIME last year in September, I made the decision that Marnox Media would no longer be involved with this project.

“Colin Nawala and I parted ways in October 2007 and Marnox Media Botswana is no longer trading in Botswana,” the letter also said.

Nawala had been coordinating the event while heading Marnox Media Botswana, and, according to Moskovic, Nawala was fired by Marnox Media, and claims that as per verbal agreement between him (Moskovic) and Mark Knocker around June 2007, he was declared as an equal partner of the BIME event and concept, thus Fashion Lounge somehow automatically inherited the project after Marnox Media’s withdrawal.

Nawala has responded by sending the media copies of what he says is proof of correspondence between himself and the sponsors that repeatedly referred to him then working for Marnox Media Botswana as the organiser and Fashion Lounge as venue sponsor and Orange as headline sponsor. Which simply means, says Nawala, that “they have no place taking over the project.” “I was too busy focusing on staging the event that I was oblivious to what was going on. By the time I realized that I had been cornered, we were already 2 weeks from staging the event. The venue sponsor (Dan Moskovic) was now calling the shots and fighting with me over the event.”

Colin showed Sunday Standard documentation of the modelling contest’s conception dating as early as 2003, then titled Gem Stones. Later named 101 Beauties, then Star Warz to the current handle Botswana International Model Expo. The contest was initially intended to be a 13 episode reality television series. “When I joined Marnox Media, I brought along with me this concept and during the coordination my partner, Mark Knocker, was disturbed by the twists and turns during negotiations and opted to pull out. He did not claim ownership of the project,” says Nawala.

In an interview from South Africa, Mark Knocker confirmed to The Sunday Standard that indeed Nawala had not been fired from Marnox Media, “We decided to part ways amicably, as he wanted to continue with events and I with what had been my core business – advert placement on television, radio and print,” Knocker said. “Colin had brought with him the BIME concept the implementation of which did not start and run smoothly between him and some of the sponsors, I decided to distance myself because I do business in Botswana and could not afford to be linked with suspect dealings,” he said.
After the event, Nawala says he received a phone call from Moskovic telling him, “You are out, we don’t like you, Orange doesn’t want you, this is our project now.”

Nawala also enclosed in the media release an email from Moskovic written in third person; below is an extract:
“Mr. Moskovic then informed you that the reason he had to deal with Trump Model Management (TMM) and the winner directly was that the main sponsor of the event did not want to have any further dealings with you. To this you once again replied that it was your event and that our Mr. Moskovic should stay away from communicating with TMM.

“It is very clear to us that you are trying to distance Fashion Lounge from BIME. You are further trying to act in your personal capacity with regards BIME and trying to convince every one that BIME is in fact solely your project in your personal capacity and not the result of a partnership between Fashion Lounge and Marnox Media.

“This is very surprising to us as you will recall, approximately 90% of putting BIME together was done by Fashion Lounge. Further 100% of the sponsorship money was obtained by Fashion Lounge. You have no right to claim BIME as your event.”

Nawala’s response to this is that he had already secured a sponsor and he showed The Sunday Standard communication between himself and a big local company. Nawala says all Moskovic did was persuade him to go with Orange’s sponsorship as he already had commitment from another sponsor. “I drafted every single sponsorship request letter that had anything to do with BIME,” he said. He also said he kept Orange and Fashion Lounge updated at all times about the project only for them to claim it as their own.

Meanwhile, Tebatso will not be at the New York Fashion Week, which runs from the 1st to 8th of February. However Nawala says he has given Trump Model Management the go ahead to deal directly with Orange and Fashion Lounge for Tebatso’s modelling career to kick off, while he pursues legal proceedings.
Tebatso is to report at TMM in New York on the 2nd of March, and her itinerary is yet to be released.

Orange Public Relations Manager, Karabo Tlhabiwe, however, maintains that Orange is just a sponsor, adding that Orange has also gone above their sponsorship agreement by including travel and accommodation expenses for a family member who will chaperone Tebatso in New York. Tlhabiwe said the rest of Tebatso’s prize money (P15 000) will be paid to her on her departure to New York.

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The Telegraph September 30

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 30, 2020.