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South Africa gov't withdraws support for Miss Universe representative

By Camille Santiago Published Nov 15, 2021 3:01 pm

The South African government said it was dissociating itself from reigning Miss SA Lalela Mswane's decision to participate in the 70th Miss Universe in Eliat, Israel.

The decision came after growing calls for Mswane to boycott the pageant over what government officials said were Israel’s "atrocities against Palestinians."

After several discussions and consultations with the Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture, the Miss SA pageant organizers argued last week that the pageant is not a “politically inspired event," thus, Mswane should be allowed to participate.

"It has proven difficult to persuade the Miss SA pageant organisers to reconsider their decision to partake in the Miss Universe event," it said in a statement.

Therefore, the SA government "withdraws its support" following the Miss SA organization's "intransigence and disregard of advice."

"The atrocities committed by Israel against Palestinians are well documented and government, as the legitimate representative of the people of South Africa, cannot in good conscience associate itself with such," it continued.

Arts Minister Nathi Mthethwa said the move to go ahead could "prove disastrous to her [Mswane’s] future and public standing as a young, Black woman." He believes that if she does decide to withdraw, her reputation and overall standing "will be far more advanced in South Africa and internationally in comparison to a once off event."

"But even so, we still hope some common sense will prevail in the interest of the reigning queen, Lalela Mswane; and we remain open for discussions in that regard," the statement concluded.

A few weeks ago, former president Nelson Mandela's grandson, Inkosi Zwelivelile Mandla Mandela, has called on African countries to boycott the Miss Universe competition.

"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," said a statement released by Mvezo Komkhulu (The Great Place).

"Daily Apartheid Israel violates the fundamental human rights of the Palestinian people and commits crimes against humanity," the statement said further.

South Africa backs the Palestinian cause with formal diplomatic relations established in 1995, a year after the end of apartheid.

In 2019, SA downgraded its embassy in Tel Aviv and pulled out its ambassador.