Dept hoping to find common ground with Miss SA organisers over Israel pageant

The government has withdrawn its support after it was unable to convince organisers to pull out of the Miss Universe pageant because of the state's treatment of Palestinians.

Miss SA Lalela Mswane. Picture: Miss SA Official.

JOHANNESBURG - The Arts and Culture Department is still hoping to find common ground with Miss South Africa organisers.

The South African government said that it would not endorse reigning Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane should she participate in the upcoming Miss Universe pageant expected to take place in Israel in December.

In a first for democratic South Africa, the government has withdrawn its support after it was unable to convince organisers to pull out of the international competition because of the state's treatment of Palestinians.

READ: SA government says it won't support Miss SA at Miss Universe contest in Israel

The Arts and Culture Department said that should Mswane compete on the global stage, it would be without the backing of the government.

Spokesperson Masechaba Khumalo said: "If anything, by withdrawing, Miss South Africa’s reputation and overall standing will be far more advanced in South Africa and internationally in comparison to a once-off event. Our preference was to try and find each other and this has regrettably been unsuccessful hence the decision by government to distance itself."

READ: Govt's withdrawal of support for Miss SA to compete in Israel welcomed

The South African government is one of several countries that has described Israel as an apartheid state and as a result, the department said that it could not in good conscience associate itself with the pageant.