Johannesburg (The Inside Palestine)- The Department of Arts, Culture and Sports of South Africa released a statement on Sunday saying the government had withdrawn its support- and as a result, that of the country- for Miss South Africa and the Miss South Africa organization to compete in the global competition set to take place in ‘Israel’ in December.
The withdrawal follows consultations between the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture and the Miss South Africa leadership to reconsider their decision to partake in the Miss Universe Pageant, which will be held in Eilat, an Israeli city built on the ruins of displaced Palestinian villages.
“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”, the statement read.
The department said it had first held what seemed like engaging, constructive and progressive discussions, but this later met with an unpleasant demeanor that is intransigent and lacking appreciation of the potential negative impact of such a decision on Mswane’s reputation.
Miss SA pageant organizers had even visited Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a known anti-apartheid leader and supporter of the Palestine people, at his home to get more perspective on the Palestinian cause, during which he is said to have to them that Palestinians’ “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”.
Minister Nathi Mthethwa said while he appreciates the likely impact on the individual interest of Mswane, he strongly believed that reasons that require withdrawal far outweigh individual interests.
“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 that can prove disastrous to her future and public standing as a young, black woman,” Mthethwa said.
Earlier this month, organizations, activists, and anti-apartheid leaders, including Mandla Mandela, called on Miss South Africa to boycott the pageant, which will be held in an apartheid country, as participation contradicts South African values.