IT’S not raining but pouring for the Miss South Africa organisers as the government withdrew its support.
This follows calls from organisations and individuals for the pageant to withdraw from participating in the 70th Miss Universe pageant on 12 December in Eilat, Israel.
On Sunday afternoon, 14 November, the government revealed its withdrawal comes after unsuccessful consultations initiated by the Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture.
The department said it had proven difficult to persuade the Miss SA organisers to reconsider their decision to partake in the Miss Universe event in Israel next month.
“What during initial consultations appeared like engaging, constructive and progressive discussions, was later met with an unpleasant demeanour that is lacking appreciation of the potential negative impact of such a decision on the reputation and future of a young black woman.
“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,” said the department.
The minister of sport, arts and culture strongly Nathi Mthethwa said she 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 one-off event that can prove disastrous to her future and public standing as a young, black woman,” said Mthethwa.
“Our first preference was to try and find each other so as to issue a joint media statement.
“This has regrettably been unsuccessful, hence the decision now to publicly distance government and the people of South Africa from Miss SA pageant organiser’s stance on this matter.
“But we still hope some common sense will prevail in the interest of the reigning queen Lalela Mswane and we remain open for discussions.”
Previously Miss South Africa Organisation CEO Stephanie Weil said that Lalela would join participants from about 70 countries in the contest and would represent Mzansi to the best of her ability.
“South Africa was placed very firmly in the 21st century when Zozibini Tunzi, proudly wearing her natural hair without trying to conceal it under a weave or a wig, was crowned Miss Universe.
“Her refusal to bow down to pressure to look a certain way was ground-breaking and opened the door to diversity and the rise of the individual as opposed to lookalikes,” said Weil.