LALELA Mswane, Miss South Africa 2021, being crowned by her predecessor, Shudufhadzo Musida. | Supplied
LALELA Mswane, Miss South Africa 2021, being crowned by her predecessor, Shudufhadzo Musida. | Supplied

Miss SA organisation breaks its silence on Miss Universe boycott drama

By Marchelle Abrahams Time of article published Nov 9, 2021

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For newly crowned Miss SA Lalela Mswane it should have been her shining moment.

As soon as the announcement was made that she was to compete in the Miss Universe pageant in Israel, concerned citizens and activist groups voiced their concerns.

One of these was Nelson Mandela’s grandson Inkosi Zwelivelile Mandla Mandela who urged South Africans to boycott the event.

After learning the location of the Miss Universe event, Mandela called on her and all former Miss South Africa winners to boycott that event in protest at the “occupation and the cruel treatment of Palestinians at the hands of apartheid Israel regime”.

Africa’s largest Palestine solidarity organisation #Africa4Palestine also added their voice to the debate.

In response, Brand South Africa said while it cannot comment on the conflict in the Middle East, it fully supported government’s decision as pronounced by the Department of International Relations.

“As an apolitical organisation, Brand South Africa is not in a position to comment on matters relating to the conflict in the Middle East, suffice to say that the Department of International Relations and Co-operation has already pronounced the government’s position on the matter regarding the importance of upholding the principles of self-determination and non-discrimination: Justice for the Palestinian People,” it said.

After the increasing backlash and slew of misinformation surrounding the topic, the Miss South Africa organisation has release an official statement.

“Miss South Africa 2021 Lalela Mswane will be representing this country at Miss Universe at the end of the year,” commented the organisation.

“Miss South Africa Organisation chief executive Stephanie Weil said that she was aware there were statements indicating that Mswane had pulled out but that these were completely unfounded and untrue,” it added.

“With all the misinformation and fake news around, Weil added that the Miss South Africa Organisation was also thrilled to be able to make Lalela’s childhood dream – to wear the crown while representing her country globally – come true.”

“South Africa was placed very firmly in the 21st century when Zozibini Tunzi, proudly wearing her natural hair without trying to conceal it under a weave or a wig, was crowned Miss Universe. Her refusal to bow down to pressure to look a certain way was ground-breaking and opened the door to diversity and the rise of the individual as opposed to lookalikes,” said Weil.

“Like her, Lalela will be a role model to young women – not just across the country, but across the African continent. Anyone who wants to rob Lalela of her moment in the spotlight is unkind and short-sighted. She is the shining beacon for young women everywhere, showing them that being beautiful while being clever and educated is very possible.

“We are not a political organisation and the Miss Universe pageant is not a politically inspired event,” she concluded.

As the reigning Miss South Africa, Lalela Mswane will join participants from close on 70 countries in the pageant.

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