Pretoria: The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) has lambasted Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa and the South African government for withdrawing support for Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane’s participation at the Miss Universe pageant to be hosted in Israel in December.
“South Africa has diplomatic ties and extensive commercial trade relations with Israel. It engages in events such as this one, such as hosting the Israeli Davis Cup team in 2018. The way we influence situations is to engage, not to withdraw,” said Wendy Kahn, the national director of the SAJBD.
“The SAJBD believes that closing doors merely isolates us from contributing, and preventing any contribution we can make to finding peace in this country. What better opportunity for a South African to be part of an event where she can connect with 70 countries around the world, including many Arab countries, in sharing our story of dialogue and peace-building?”
The department of sports, arts and culture has announced the withdrawal of support for the Miss SA pageant after unsuccessful talks with the Miss SA pageant organisers.
Miss South Africa 2021 Lalela Mswane will represent South Africa at the Miss Universe competition, held this year in Eilat, Israel, on December 13.
Khan said Mthethwa has been missing in action on “real issues” which needed his attention.
“Our minister of sports, arts and culture has been noticeably absent these past eighteen months. He has been largely silent about artists who appealed to him for help during the Covid-19 lockdown. His response to the closing down of national heritage treasures like the Apartheid Museum and Lilliesleaf Farm was appalling,” said Khan.
“His disinterest in upholding the real issues facing our arts and cultural imperatives has been palpable. Yet when it comes to placating the radical anti-Israel lobby who demand that Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane withdraw from the Miss Universe Pageant in Eilat, suddenly Minister Mthethwa finds his voice.”
On the other hand, the ruling ANC has welcomed the South African government’s decision withdrawing support for Miss SA 2021 Lalela Mswane’s participation at the Miss Universe pageant to be held next month.