Zimbabwe’s reigning Mister Ugly faces tough competition in this year’s contest, with organisers saying they received a record number of entries.

Flag of Zimbabwe.

Flag of Zimbabwe. Image by Harvey Barrison / CC BY-SA 2.0

For the first time since the competition began in 2011, organisers will hold preliminary rounds to whittle the number of hopefuls who will compete in the finale on November 20 from 36 to 12.

Organiser David Machowa said: “We are looking for natural ugliness.”

Facial features count the most, but contestants will also be judged according to their confidence when walking the runway and how they handle the question-and-answer round of the contest.

Explaining why he launched the event, Mr Machowa said: “People have always seen ugliness as something to be ashamed of. Looks are God-given. We should all be proud of who we are.”

Mr Machowa plans to expand it to other countries in southern Africa. There is no female version of the contest.

William Masvinu has held the title since 2012, when there were only a total of five contestants. He won 100 US dollars (£65) and a voucher for a night’s stay at a hotel, which he cashed in for food.

He still works at a market in Harare, hauling vegetables for 10 dollars (£6.50) a day. He had hoped the wins would lead to advertising contracts but they have not materialised.

This year, the owners of a string of Harare nightclubs donated 1,000 dollars (£650) for prize money, a crown and the event itself, to be held in a nightclub, Mr Machowa said.

(Press Association)