‘Completely untrue’ Miss SA won’t participate in Miss Universe pageant: organisers

09 November 2021 - 17:24
Lalela Mswane will participate in the Miss Universe pageant in Israel, despite earlier claims she had pulled out. File photo.
Lalela Mswane will participate in the Miss Universe pageant in Israel, despite earlier claims she had pulled out. File photo.
Image: Supplied/Miss SA

Miss SA organisers are digging their heels in over Miss SA Lalela Mswane’s participation in the 70th Miss Universe pageant, insisting she will participate in the event and dismissing allegations to the contrary as “completely unfounded and untrue”.

Pressure is mounting for the beauty queen to withdraw from the pageant taking place in Eilat in Israel on December 12, with pro-Palestine supporters saying SA’s participation was “inexcusable”.

Mandla Mandela also called for a boycott, saying Mswane should not attend the ceremony in Israel “in protest at the occupation and cruel treatment of Palestinians at the hands of the apartheid Israeli regime”.

Miss SA organisers have previously defended her participation, saying it was “not getting involved in a political war of words” but was instead looking forward to watching the recently crowned beauty queen proudly represent the country on an international stage.

This was reiterated in a statement released on Tuesday, in which the organisation’s CEO Stephanie Weil refuted claims about Mswane’s change of heart. 

Instead, Weil insisted the pageant was “thrilled to be able to make Mswane’s childhood dream — to wear the crown while representing her country globally — come true”.

“SA 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 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.

“Like her, Mswane will be a role model to young women, not just across the country, but across the African continent. Anyone who wants to rob Mswane of her moment in the spotlight is unkind and short-sighted. She is a shining beacon for young women everywhere, showing them that being beautiful while being clever and educated is very possible.

“We are not a political organisation and the Miss Universe pageant is not a politically inspired event.”


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