THE city’s parks, recreation and culture unit is planning a “Miss eThekwini Municipality” beauty pageant that will cost more than R1 million to organise.

Included in the planning are a “boot camp” for the finalists, while dress sizes will be limited from 28 to 34 and drinkers and smokers will be barred from entering.

In a report tabled before the community and emergency services cluster committee meeting yesterday, it was indicated that the pageant would be a powerful platform for developing the potential of young women in the province.

According to the report, the event would be a celebration of the province’s “savvy, smart and beautiful” women.

The unit’s head Thembinkosi Ngcobo said their aim was to ensure that when people “think about beautiful women, they must think about Durban”.

“We believe that times have changed and we want to reclaim our girls from social ills,” he said.

The pageant, which they planned to make an annual event, would also teach young girls about the importance of respecting their bodies, said Ngcobo.

They were also encouraging the private sector to get involved.

“We will also be taking the 17 finalists to a 10-day boot camp where they will be trained in life and communication skills. We hope with the training they get, they will be able participate in the Miss South Africa pageant,” he said.

However, nothing had been finalised and the report was referred back to party caucuses following a few concerns.

DA councillor Nicole Graham said it was disturbing that despite numerous problems facing the city’s parks, the unit had R1 million to spend on a pageant that was not going to benefit the city in any way.

“This, in my view, undermines women, especially when you look at the criteria. Our parks are not safe and it is the very same women who are at risk. The unit has no money for safety measures, but has money for a pageant,” she said.

The criteria for entries will be limited from age 15 to 21. The terms and conditions also state that entrants have to be eThekwini residents, they must not drink alcohol or smoke, they must have no children and must not be pregnant.

IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said he was concerned at the amount being spent on a beauty pageant.

The finals were planned for December 13 at the ICC. - The Mercury