SA could not keep quiet and let Miss SA go to Israel, says Deputy Minister Mafu
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Cape Town - Sport, Arts and Culture Deputy Minister Nocawe Mafu says the government of South Africa has a foreign policy on what should happen between Israel and Palestine.
Mafu also said they could not keep quiet and just let Miss SA go to the Miss Universe pageant in Israel without stating their position.
She made the statement when she was responding to oral questions in the National Council of Provinces when asked why the department was against the reigning Miss South Africa participating in the Miss Universe pageant, despite South Africa being a strong and reliable trade partner of Israel.
In her response, Mafu said the subject of trade relations with Israel was not related to the concerns about South Africa’s representation at the pageant, as preferred by organisers and owners of Miss SA.
“Instead, it is specially aligned to South Africa’s support for the Palestinian cause as part of an overall attempt to encourage Israel to commit towards genuine negotiations that must take place in a peaceful and enabling environment.
“The recommendation for withdrawal of Miss SA in the Miss Universe pageant is intended to draw attention to the need for Israel to commit to this outlook,” she said.
Asked if Miss SA was not uniquely placed to bridge divisions between the people and create dialogue, Mafu said the government was not prohibiting her from participating.
“We raised the concerns because it is important for us that at all times we uplift the situation and conditions of the people of Palestine.
“Cultural exchanges by their nature are a tool of foreign policy, and the foreign policy is that Israel is not our priority more than the Palestinians.”
She also said the Palestine was a concern to the country.
“The relations between Palestine and Israel are concerning to us because as South Africa we come from where they are. We got democracy because countries stood up and supported us when we were living under apartheid. It is fair that we return the favour by making sure we don’t turn our back on what is happening in Palestine.
“When then we said Miss SA must not partake in Miss Universe, which is being held in Israel, it is simply to uplift, understand and make awareness to the people of South Africa that the people of Palestine are not at this point in time liberated,” Mafu said.
The deputy minister also said it was neither here nor there whether Miss SA withdrew or not from the competition.
“The important thing is that we would have highlighted why, as the government of South Africa, we raised the issue. For us, the issue is not about Miss SA as an individual.
“Miss SA is not the important element here. The important element here is the fact that the competition is being held in Israel, which keeps on abusing the human rights of the people of Palestine.”
Mafu also said South Africa has a foreign policy on what should happen there.
“We can’t keep quiet and let her go and, when she is there she says my country never said anything. Let her go knowing that we have raised the concern and what the country stands for. We stand with the people of Palestine,” she said.