Lalela Mswane has not withdrawn from Miss Universe

Reports that reigning Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane has withdrawn from the 2021 Miss Universe competition has been labelled “unfounded and untrue”.

This comes after Palestine solidarity organisation Africa4Palestine on Tuesday reported that Lalela would no longer participate in the upcoming Miss Universe competition, amid a growing call for countries to boycott the international pageant to be held in Israel later this year.

Organisation’s CEO Stephanie 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.