ANC welcomes government withdrawal of support for Miss SA participation in Israel
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Pretoria – The ruling African National Congress has welcomed the South African government decision withdrawing support for Miss SA 2021 Lalela Mswane’s participation at the Miss Universe pageant to be held next month in Eilat, Israel.
The withdrawal of Pretoria’s support for Miss SA’s participation at the global event followed talks between the department of sports, arts and culture, and the pageant's organisers.
“The ANC continues to call upon 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,” said ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe.
“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’.”
Mabe said the “horrible history of racism of the Miss SA trademark” makes the boycott of the Miss Universe even more important and necessary.
“The ANC remembers with gratitude how nine contestants boycotted the 1976 Miss World pageant in protest against Miss SA’s participation and against the South African apartheid regime. These contestants, their countries and their organisations made sacrifices for our freedom. There is indeed a precedent for boycotts for moral, personal and other reasons by participants of the Miss Universe pageant,” he said.
Mabe highlighted that the ANC, at its most recent national conference resolved to downgrade South Africa’s diplomatic relations with Israel.
“Since then our government has made firm steps, recalling our ambassador and not posting one back in Israel, [and] for two years now we have had no ambassador in Israel. The South African government continues to actively show our solidarity with this extremely important decision,” said Mabe.
“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.”
Mabe said the ANC believes the Miss SA organisation has a responsibility “to give considerate advice and support to Miss Lalela Mswane” and that the damage to her reputation if she proceeds to participate in Israel will exceed any glamour that may arise.
“She is the face of a brand that Nine-Squared owns so she will be blamed if the organisation proceeds, we call on her to do the right thing and withdraw, and for the CEO Stephanie Weil and the Miss South Africa company to support Mswane,” said Mabe.
Last week, the Miss South Africa organisation said despite the growing calls for Mswane to boycott the December event, she would be attending and participating on behalf of South Africa.
“Miss South Africa 2021 Lalela Mswane will be representing this country at Miss Universe at the end of the year. As the reigning Miss South Africa 2021, Mswane will be participating in the 70th Miss Universe pageant to be held on December 12 in Eilat, Israel, where Andrea Meza of Mexico will crown her successor at the end of the event,” said Miss South Africa organisation chief executive Stephanie Weil.
As the reigning Miss South Africa, Mswane will join participants from close to 70 countries in this contest “and will represent South Africa to the best of her ability”.
“We are not a political organisation and the Miss Universe pageant is not a politically inspired event,” Weil said.