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[LISTEN] The Miss South Africa Furore, and the Eskom Sabotage

Staff Writer

Speaking to Radio Islam International, Sabeehah Motala, Director of Strategy at ASRI, concurred with the decision of the South African government to withdraw support from the Miss Universe, which is to be hosted in Israel. She noted how, as a country, which previously faced an apartheid system, South Africans are generally supportive of the Palestinian cause. She further noted the disjuncture in the Miss Universe aims and practices, especially in a context wherein Palestinian women disproportionately face the worst excesses of the occupation, from having their loved ones killed, to having to face off against settlers trying to confiscate their lands and properties.

Noting that the decision was both Miss South Africa’s as well the organisation’s, she also argued that the CEO’s work with companies seeking to protect Israel’s reputation, may be an underlying reason behind the pageant’s continued insistence on sending its candidate to Israel – it is significant that the Miss South Africa contest is organised by a private company, meaning that the government does not have much say in the matter. It is also significant that similar events, including Miss World and Miss Universe, were boycotted when organised in South Africa during apartheid.

Meanwhile, Motala expressed real concern over the Eskom crisis, which some argue is a result of the leadership, while others have blamed the utility’s aging infrastructure. Significantly, in this regard, are the reports of sabotage, which have seen individuals suspended, with 8 criminal cases instituted. Motala argued that it was especially concerning that individuals, for their own financial gain, could plunge the country into darkness. Further, Eskom’s new surveillance equipment will likely cost the tax payer further, especially since the utility is debt ridden.

Lastly, she talked about renewables, especially in relation to a court case, which is seeing the South African government being taken to court to ensure funds spent for a coal fire power station, diverted toward renewables. The litigants argue that coal fire power stations not only pollute the environment, but that they greatly impact those in and around the station itself. This is also significant as South Africa is likely to be disproportionately impacted by climate change. The result of this litigation will set an important precedent for the country going forward.

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