Calls grow louder for South Africa to boycott Miss Universe

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Miss Universe Andrea Meza
Miss Universe Andrea Meza
Photo: Rodrigo Varela/Getty Images
  • The Miss South Africa Organisation has received backlash following an announcement that the reigning titleholder would compete at Miss Universe 2021, hosted in Israel, despite growing calls to boycott the competition.
  • The Miss South Africa Organisation is "thrilled to be able to make Lalela's childhood dream - to wear the crown while representing her country globally - come true," said a statement.
  • Lalela will join participants from close to 70 countries at the Miss Universe pageant to be hosted in Israel on 13 December.

The Miss South Africa Organisation has received a wave of backlash as calls to boycott Miss Universe 2021 grow louder. The 70th edition of Miss Universe will be hosted in Israel on 13 December. 

Former president Nelson Mandela's grandson, Zwelivelile Mandla Mandela has lead the charge, and in a statement said: "Israel is an Apartheid State and we will continue to mobilise all freedom loving people of the world to boycott, divest and pass sanctions against the brutal apartheid regime." 

On Tuesday, Miss South Africa said that the reigning titleholder Lalela Mswane would compete at this year's Miss Universe competition, in response to earlier reports from Africa4Palestine stating that the 24-year-old had withdrawn from the international pageant. 

Miss South Africa Organisation CEO, Stephanie Weil, said that she was aware of reports stating that Lalela had pulled out of the competition and labelled all such statements "completely unfounded and untrue". 

She added that "her organisation was also thrilled to be able to make Lalela's childhood dream - to wear the crown while representing her country globally - come true".

"Lalela has spoken out openly about her being bullied as a child. She will not be bullied as an adult against fulfilling her ambition," she said further.

The statement, which was later posted on Instagram, has garnered an overwhelmingly negative response on social media. 

In response to the statement, the Palestine solidarity organisation said in an Instagram post: "...now that the Miss South Africa company/organisation is intending on still proceeding with traveling to Israel, we thus have no option but to embark on a vigilant campaign including protest actions to reject this sellout position. [sic]"

According to IOL, political party Al Jama-ah has further expressed extreme disappointment in the Miss South Africa Organisation's "unfortunate statement".

Young Hearts 4 Palestine on Instagram, in a lengthy post said it rejected the "mediocre statement" made by the organisation.

Despite the growing call for the country to withdraw from the competition, the Miss South Africa Organisation has also received support, including backing from former Miss Iraq, Sarah Abdali Idan and Reeva Forman, who is CEO of Reeva Beauty and Health and a member of the South African Jewish Board Deputies. 

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