Citizen Reporter
Reporter
2 minute read
1 Dec 2021
1:42 pm

NGO takes government to court over Miss Universe boycott

Citizen Reporter

Citizens for Integrity says government's boycott of Miss SA Lalela Mswane for Miss Universe is a 'violation of her rights'.

Miss SA 2021 Lalela Mswane. Picture: Instagram

Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane is participating in Miss Universe in Israel and is already in the country to compete.

However, back in SA, her participation is still hotly debated.

In a statement, Citizen for Integrity an NGO had approached the Pretoria High Court to have government withdraw its statement to not support the Miss SA Organisation at the Miss Universe event, due to be held in Israel.

Citizens for Integrity wants the high court to rule that the boycott is unconstitutional, irrational and is a violation of several human rights and laws. The NGO’s case is against the minister of justice and correctional services and the minister of sports, arts and culture.

Despite mounting pressure from politicians and citizens calling on Mswane and other beauty queens to boycott the pageant, she decided that participating was the best way to represent the country.

RELATED: Miss SA Lalela Mswane en route to Israel for Miss Universe pageant

Previously, Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa said: “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.”

In the court papers, Citizens for Integrity has argued that the Miss SA Organisation is a private organisation. They argue that it receives no state funding and that the winner has the right to compete in the Miss Universe competition. It added this type of event doesn’t fall under the government’s legitimate interests.

They added the department’s conduct “constitutes an unconstitutional interference in a non-political, worldwide, cultural event that does not fall within the government’s legitimate objectives”.

“The government has not only failed but has deliberately transgressed its obligation to respect and protect human rights guaranteed to all in the Bill of Rights. It has just as flagrantly denied Miss South Africa and the South African public the right to fair administrative decision-making.

Citizens of Integrity says the SA government’s decision to withdraw their support of Mswane or ask her not to compete, strips her of her right to freedom of expression, freedom of choice and right of association.

The civil organisation added the boycott could open potential international sanctions being imposed on SA and its trading entities. Their attorneys have written to President Cyril Ramaphosa, “to demand that the government immediately and unconditionally retract its statement on withdrawing its support and that of South Africa for Miss South Africa, and to apologise to citizens for exceeding the bounds of its authority, and interfering in the rights of citizens.

The urgent application will be heard in the North Gauteng High Court on 7 December at 10am.

Meanwhile, the woman at the centre of the drama has thanked the public for its support this past week, since she left for Israel.

Compiled by Sandisiwe Mbhele