Pretoria – Activists warned of ongoing resistance as they prepared for a protest on Friday outside Miss South Africa’s head office in Rivonia, Johannesburg, against the pageant’s insistence on participating in “apartheid” Israel’s Miss Universe event.
“Representatives of over twenty organizations with a combined membership of over five million people, will be gathering outside Miss South Africa offices today. We expect leaders from each of these organizations to give messages of support. We are expecting roughly three to five hundred people to attend,” Africa4Palestine’s Bram Hanekom told Independent Media.
“We are not a small group. We are South Africans. If Miss South Africa proceeds to participate in apartheid Israel, she will be representing the company Nine-Squared that owns Miss South Africa. She will be Miss Nine-Squared not Miss South Africa.”
Hanekom said if Miss South Africa participates in the Miss Universe in Israel, she would be representing “a very small fringe group of pro-apartheid Israel supporters”.
He said Miss South Africa organisation chief executive, Stephanie Weil can expect further protests if the company does not rescind the decision to participate in Israel.
An advisory said the protest on Friday is supported by organizations including the African National Congress; the Economic Freedom Fighters; the National Freedom Party; SA Communist Party; Al-Jamah party, ANC Youth League, ANC Women’s League, Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu); the Media Review Network; Congress of South African Students (Cosas); Young Community League of South Africa; Young Hearts 4 Palestine, Youth 4 Palestine, Swaziland Solidarity Network; Muslim Youth Movement – Venda; Friends of Cuba Society (FOCUS); Embassy of Palestine and the Royal House of Mandela at Mvezo.
From Gqeberha, Nazleyleila Limbada representing th Young Hearts for Palestine said it is delusional for anyone to think they can meaningfully contribute to peace in the Middle East by taking part in a pageant.
“We are protesting today because we believe it is unethical for a South African woman of colour to go to Israel which is an apartheid State. She [Miss South Africa] says she stands for children and women’s rights. She is educated enough to use Google to find out what is actually happening in Israel at the moment,” said Limbada.
“From what we have read, Miss South Africa seems to think that she will go there and make some changes. I think she is deluding herself if she that way.”
Earlier this week, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) lambasted Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa and the South African government, for withdrawing support for Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane’s participation in the Miss Universe pageant in Eilat, Israel, on December 13.
“South Africa has diplomatic ties and extensive commercial trade relations with Israel. It engages in events such as this one, such as hosting the Israeli Davis Cup team in 2018. The way we influence situations is to engage, not to withdraw,” said Wendy Kahn, the national director of the SAJBD.
“The SAJBD believes that closing doors merely isolates us from contributing, and preventing any contribution we can make to finding peace in this country. What better opportunity for a South African to be part of an event where she can connect with 70 countries around the world, including many Arab countries, in sharing our story of dialogue and peace-building?”
The department of sports, arts and culture announced the withdrawal of support for the Miss SA pageant after unsuccessful talks with the Miss SA pageant organisers.
Miss South Africa 2021 Lalela Mswane is due represent South Africa at the Miss Universe competition, held this year in Eilat, Israel, on December 13.