Dalai Lama envoy: Don't be intimidated
Cape Town - Sovereign nations such as South Africa should never allow themselves to be intimidated or scared into making decisions, the Dalai Lama's representative in Africa said on Thursday.
"As a nation oppressed by the Chinese government, we would certainly want to see any sovereign nation have their own foreign policy and not be dictated to by anybody," Sonam Tenzing told the Cape Town Press Club.
"They must stand up and not be intimidated or scared when making decisions."
Tenzing said South Africa had the right not to grant the Dalai Lama a visa. However, what was lacking in this case was the failure to give a decision on the visa.
"The visa fees were all paid, for seven passports, yet there was no answer at all," he said.
The only response the Dalai Lama received was from the South African embassy in India, which said it was awaiting advice from Pretoria.
"His Holiness The Dalai Lama waited and waited, and when he realised that nothing was coming out, that convinced him that inconvenience was being felt by someone and he came to the decision."
He said the president's office had thrown the ball into the court of the department of international relations, which then threw it into someone else's court.
"Everyone was affected by this confusion," Tenzing said.
International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane had promised in 2009, after the Dalai Lama was denied a visa, that the Tibetan spiritual leader would be free to visit South Africa in the future.
Tenzing said he carried the quote around in his pocket.
"South African people, the media, everyone, was asking the question why there was no decision to grant the visa to His Holiness The Dalai Lama."