Lalela Mswane’s short reign as Miss South Africa has been marred by controversy. The decision to allow Mswane to participate in the Miss Universe pageant in Israel has been met with resistance from several sectors of South African society.
Human rights organisation Africa 4 Palestine, along with several partner organisations, staged a protest outside Miss South Africa’s head office on Friday.
Among those protesting were the ANC, EFF, NFP, SACP, Al-Jamah party, ANC Youth League, ANC Women’s League, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), Congress of South African Students (Cosas), and Young Community League of South Africa (YCL SA).
The South African government has also revoked its support for the reigning Miss South Africa stating that: “The atrocities committed by Israel against Palestinians are well documented and Government, as the legitimate representative of the people of South Africa, cannot in good conscience associate itself with such.”
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“In an attempt to demonstrate what partaking in Miss Universe means for South Africans and many others across the world, the Miss SA pageant organisers were referred to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s views following his visit to the area. Indicating that Israel was guilty of the apartheid treatment of Palestinians, he said, “Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.”,” the government added.
Stephanie Weil, CEO of Miss South Africa Organisation, reiterated that Miss South Africa would be participating in the pageant, despite the furore surrounding the decision.
“We all know that boycotting is not necessarily going to be the way that we are going to make a substantial difference, I truly don’t believe not attending and not being able to showcase or use one’s voice and being in that country is going to be the right thing,” she said.
Weil, argued that one person not attending the contest would not make a difference.
To date, Mswanenot said anything.