Miss SA, Lalela Mswane. (PHOTO: Misha Jordaan)
The ANC has welcomed government’s decision to withdraw its support for the Miss South Africa pageant.The decision comes after it was unable to convince organisers to boycott the Miss Universe pageant.The government wants to boycott the Miss Universe pageant because it is being held in Israel, which is accused of committing atrocities against Palestinians.The ANC has welcomed the government’s withdrawal of support for the Miss South Africa pageant, accusing the organisers of betraying South Africans for not boycotting the Miss Universe pageant that will be held in Israel in December.
In a statement on Sunday, the Department of Sports, Art and Culture announced it would no longer support the pageant because of Miss South Africa organisers’ “intransigence and disregard” of advice against sending Miss SA Lalela Mswane to compete in the Miss Universe pageant.
“Following unsuccessful consultations initiated by the Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture, it has proven difficult to persuade the Miss SA pageant organisers to reconsider their decision to partake in the Miss Universe event scheduled to be held in Israel during the month of December 2021,” it read.
“What, during initial consultations, appeared like engaging, constructive and progressive discussions was later met with an unpleasant demeanour that is intransigent and lacking appreciation of the potential negative impact of such a decision on the reputation and future of a young black woman.”
The department said atrocities committed by Israel against Palestinians were well documented and the government, as the legitimate representative of the people of South Africa, “could not in good conscience associate itself with such”.
READ | Govt withdraws support for Miss SA ahead of Miss Universe pageant in Israel
The ANC backed the department’s decision, calling on Nine-squared, which owns the Miss South Africa organisation, to hear and listen to “the overwhelming call for the Miss South Africa team to boycott the upcoming apartheid Israel-hosted Miss Universe”.
“The racism, human rights violations, illegal settlements, ongoing unlawful occupation and the apartheid laws of Israel are well documented and should be compelling enough for your withdrawal,” ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said.
“We painfully remember when black South Africans were not allowed to participate in competitions, including under the Miss South Africa title, but rather had to participate in Miss World pageants under the title ‘Miss Africa South’.
“This horrible history of racism of the Miss SA ‘trademark’ makes the boycott of this Miss Universe even more important and necessary.”
READ | Calls grow louder for South Africa to boycott Miss Universe
Mabe added the ANC, at its most recent national conference, resolved to downgrade diplomatic relations with Israel.
“Since then, our government has made firm steps, recalling our ambassador and not posting one back in Israel – for two years now.
“The South African government continues to actively show our solidarity with this extremely important decision. We recently observed disturbing videos of comrade Lesiba Machaba, a senior South African diplomat based in Ramallah, being assaulted and disrespected by Israeli police who were not allowing Palestinians to pick their olives.
“In this context, it would be a betrayal of the South African people for Nine-squared and its CEO, Stephanie Weil, to insist on participation in Israel,” he added.
Earlier this week, Channel24 reported calls for South Africa to boycott Miss Universe had grown louder.
READ | Palestinian civil rights organisations warn Miss SA against condoning apartheid Israel
Former president Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Zwelivelile Mandla Mandela, was one such voice, who released a statement saying “Israel is an apartheid state and we will continue to mobilise all freedom-loving people of the world to boycott, divest and pass sanctions against the brutal apartheid regime”.
In an Instagram post, the Palestine solidarity organisation said: “… now that the Miss South Africa company/organisation is intending on still proceeding with travelling to Israel, we thus have no option but to embark on a vigilant campaign, including protest actions to reject this sellout position [sic]”.