POLITICAL parties, politicians and activists are pushing back after the Miss South Africa organisation released a statement this week saying, “We are not a political organisation and the Miss Universe pageant is not a politically-inspired event”.
Activists and politicians have also claimed that the pageant being hosted in Israel is part of a normalisation campaign of the host nation to seem more progressive and democratic.
Political parties called on Miss South Africa to boycott the Miss Universe pageant which will be hosted in the Middle Eastern country described by Pro-Palestinians as an apartheid state.
The ANC Women’s League said they supported the call for Miss South Africa to withdraw in solidarity with the people of Palestine.
The EFF said they joined South Africans in a call for Miss South Africa to “boycott apartheid Israel”.
The United Democratic Movement echoed the same sentiments and said: “Inhuman acts committed by Israel in establishing and maintaining domination by systematically oppressing Palestine cannot be tolerated.”
On multiple occasions, Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, also known as Mandla Mandela, has called for all African countries to boycott the pageant in Israel.
Mandela told the Weekend Argus that Africa could not be oblivious to the pain and suffering of others, especially not the struggle of the Palestinian people.
“We know all too well the indignity of colonial occupation and we all stood together gallantly against the brutal apartheid regime in South Africa, fully supported by the global anti-apartheid movement,” he said.
Mandela said: “We are all reminded by my grandfather president Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s words ‘Our struggle is far from over as long as there is a single human being suffering anywhere in the world’”.
Mandela said while he respected Lalela Mswane’s right to choose, he was disappointed by her willingness to be used by “apartheid Israel, to beautify their crimes against humanity.”
“However, we should also be very cautious in not making the reigning Miss South Africa a scapegoat,” he said.
Mandela said: “The Miss South Africa organisers and sponsors cannot be so oblivious to the principled position our country has taken in all global forums, against apartheid Israel and the wide-spread call from South Africans calling for her not to participate in the Miss Universe Pageant.”
In response to the comment made about Miss South Africa not being a political organisation, Mandela said this was a stand for human rights.
“It is not a political view when we become the voices of those that are besieged, it is not a political view when innocent women and children are pleading with us to help them stop the atrocities metered out against them.”
Mandela said the country cannot condone Miss South Africa nor the organisation to “fig-leaf apartheid Israel’s atrocities and illegal occupation of Palestinian lands’’.
He quoted his grandfather saying: “What counts in life is not merely the fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
Activist Taahirah Abrahams who has hosted Free Palestine marches in Cape Town and said she doesn’t believe that Mswane was someone who should be representing South African women.
“We have been told that Miss SA will not be stopped from pursuing her dream of going to the Miss Universe pageant and wearing the crown,” she said.
She said: “Palestinians have been dreaming of their freedom before Miss SA was even born. To overlook this is to put your agenda above human rights.
Abrahams said all South Africans should know and understand the oppression that Palestinians continue to face.
“South Africa has long stood in solidarity with the Palestinians. At this time, when the siege on Gaza reaches its 15-year mark, when Palestinians are being forcibly removed from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah and when the West Bank continues to be colonised, South Africa has to defend the Palestinians.”
Miss South Africa CEO, Stephanie Weil and the Miss South Africa organisation declined to further comment on the matter.