COSATU supports SA government’s decision to withdraw backing of Miss SA pageant, as the Miss Universe in Israel approaches

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) commends the South African government for heeding the call of millions of South Africans, calling for the current Miss South Africa Miss Lalela Mswane to boycott/withdraw from the Miss Universe pageant taking place on the ruins of the ethnically cleansed village of Um Al-Rashrash in apartheid Israel this December.  

COSATU condemns the relentless violations of human rights in Palestine, and we are gravely outraged by the Miss SA company’s blatant disregard of the country’s political stance, which firstly recognises the right to self-determination and freedom for every country – including Palestine and its people. The mounting calls by the progressive pro-Palestine movement in South Africa, including COSATU, are based on Israel’s atrocities against the Palestinian people in the Middle East.  

The Miss South Africa brand prides itself on being an organisation that shapes young South African women into ambassadors for our country. Young women who will become champions of women’s rights thought leaders and savvy career women who inspire other young South Africans to fulfil their potential, recognise their self-worth and find their place in the world. However, the decision to continue to attend a global pageant being hosted in a country where thousands of young women are displaced and killed in this unjustifiable continued aggression against the people of Palestine is in itself inexcusable.  

Women, in particular, have carried much of the burden of the Israel-Palestine tensions. Israeli checkpoints, locations occupied by Israeli Defence Forces, have been placed to block out anyone of harm from crossing, in other words, any Palestinian. Palestinian women who need medical treatment during labour cannot go past the checkpoints. Defence Forces have refused to pass almost every pregnant woman that tries to pass through, claiming that even those who seek medical treatment pose a serious threat.  

Restrictions on movement and access, increased settlement expansion and settler violence, demolitions of Palestinian infrastructure and displacement, the fragmentation of the territory and the closure of the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly the Gaza Strip, continue to have a negative gender-differentiated impact on the lives of Palestinian women and their families. How does Miss South Africa go and “represent South Africans” in a country that has deprived the women of Palestine of their right to “recognise their self-worth”? An apartheid state!  

COSATU continues to intensify its mobilisation for the complete boycott of companies trading with Israel and any goods imported into the country. It is noteworthy that the Zionists have launched a global offensive, using dirty money, buying and bribing politicians, corrupting every fibre of society, to join the chorus of lies and misinformation against the colonised people of Palestine and their legitimate struggle for their land.  

COSATU also joins the pro-Palestine progressive forces in South Africa, calling on the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) not to air the Miss Universe Pageant on the television platform.  

The world must refuse to be part of the rot that keeps the Palestinian people in bondage a day longer. It is enough dehumanisation and tragic that we continue with our daily lives when amongst us we have “civilised colonisers and fascists”, who pretend to be dignified but feed off the blood and sweat of other people.  

The Palestinian people will forever and deserve our unwavering solidarity for freedom.  

Sonia Mabunda-Kaziboni 

International Secretary 

Cosatu Head Office 

Tel:072 535 1577