'Hypocrite' Ramaphosa slammed for accepting Israel credentials after leaving Miss SA out in the cold

27 January 2022 - 11:00
By Unathi Nkanjeni
President Cyril Ramaphosa under fire. File image
Image: REUTERS /MIKE HUTCHINGS President Cyril Ramaphosa under fire. File image

Social media was filled with reaction to President Cyril Ramaphosa accepting a letter of credence from the ambassador of Israel, with some calling for the government to apologise to Miss SA Lalela Mswane. 

The presidency this week held a credentials ceremony where Ramaphosa received letters of credence from heads of mission-designate, including Israel ambassador Eliav Belotsercovsky, in Pretoria. 

Other letters came from Malawi, Argentina, Romania, Guinea, Trinidad, Ecuador, Congo, Mexico, Hellenic Republic, Algeria, New Zealand and Cuba.

The receiving of the letter comes months after the government withdrew its support of Mswane’s participation in the Miss Universe pageant held in Israel last month. 

Politicians, including transport minister Fikile Mbalula, and civil society called on her to take a stance against Israel in that country’s conflict with Palestine.

Sports, arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa said the government’s reason for withdrawing its support was the decision to participate lacked “appreciation of the potential negative impact of such a decision on the reputation and future of a young black woman”.

“If anything, by withdrawing, Miss SA’s reputation and overall standing will be far more advanced in SA and internationally in comparison to a one-off event that can prove disastrous to her future and public standing as a young black woman,” Mthethwa said at the time. 

Mswane participated in the event and finished second runner-up. While most hailed her for flying the country’s flag high at the pageant, Mthethwa refused to congratulate her or heed calls to apologise for not supporting her.

His spokesperson Masechaba Khumalo said the department had issued a statement earlier explaining its stance on the pageant “and we stand by that position”.

On social media, many, including EFF deputy leader Floyd Shivambu, criticised Ramaphosa and the ANC for being “hypocrites and liars” by accepting the letter of credence this week.

Attempts to contact the presidency for comment on the backlash were unsuccessful at the time of publishing this article. Any update will be included once received.

The department of International Relations and Cooperation explained South Africa's diplomatic relations with Israel.

"South Africa has maintained diplomatic relations with the State of Israel, whilst at the same time unwavering in our principled support for the struggle of the Palestinian people for self determination.

"South Africa remains in favour of a two-state solution with the peoples of Palestine & Israel existing peacefully side-by-side inline with June 4, 1967 borders."

Here is a snapshot of some of the reactions: