Miss SA sticks to her guns

Miss SA, Lalela Mswane, is not budging from her decision to attend the Miss Universe pageant that will be hosted in Israel next month. It’s getting more than a little awkward now: the SA government has withdrawn its support for Mswane. 💀 To recap: several pro-Palestinian organisations have called on Mswane and the Miss SA organisation to withdraw and boycott the pageant as a statement against the country labelled by the United Nations as an apartheid state. The South African government has made its support for Palestine very clear, calling the pageant  “the upcoming apartheid Israel-hosted Miss Universe”. It says Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land and its gross violation of Palestinians’ rights is reason enough for Mswane and the Miss SA organisation to withdraw from the contest. The organisation insists it’s not political and is going ahead anyway. 

This wouldn’t be the first cultural boycott against a beauty pageant. Apartheid South Africa was excoriated in 1956 for creating Miss SA as a whites-only pageant. In the 1970s, several countries withdrew from a Miss World contest to protest South Africa’s participation; the country’s racist policies subsequently saw it banned from Miss World for 13 years.

We’re looking for the same energy against Israel: apartheid wasn’t OK in SA, and it’s not OK anywhere else. Please do better, Lalela. 

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 18 November 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.