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

Pro-Palestine groups, political parties, and civil organisations have welcomed the government's withdrawal of support for Miss South Africa at the Miss Universe pageant taking place in Israel.

Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane. Picture: @Official_MissSA/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Pro-Palestine groups, political parties, and civil organisations have welcomed the government's withdrawal of support for Miss South Africa at the Miss Universe pageant.

The Arts and Culture Department announced on Sunday that the government would be dissociating itself from a decision by the reigning Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane to take part in the annual Miss Universe pageant, which will be held in Israel next month.

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

The organisation is adamant that Mswane should participate, arguing that the international competition is not a "politically-inspired event".

The African National Congress (ANC) has backed the department's decision and has called on organisers to emulate the nine contestants who boycotted the 1976 Miss World pageant in protest of the brutal apartheid regime in South Africa.

The Palestine Solidarity Alliance's Noor Ahmed said: "We're hoping that not just the Miss South Africa organisation but Lalela herself will heed these calls and withdraw from the competition and not go to Israel to represent South Africa there. In order to keep the pressure up, we will be holding various actions throughout the course of the next few weeks."

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies' Karen Milner said that Minister Nathi Mthethwa and his department have failed to show leadership.

Milner said: "It is a great shame that the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, who was silent in the face of the suffering of South Africans under COVID, has found his voice over Miss South Africa's participation in a beauty contest. He has aligned himself with a tiny minority of voices with a very narrow political agenda over the voices of the majority of South Africans who want this woman to have the opportunity to pursue her hopes and dreams."