Dalai Lama saga 'bad publicity for SA'
Johannesburg - The Dalai Lama's cancellation of his trip to South Africa was a "huge, huge publicity disaster for our country", a political analyst said on Wednesday.
"There's only one Dalai Lama in the world and only one Desmond Tutu in the world and if any country misses the opportunity to host them or to treat them with courtesy, you can bet that that becomes the worst news about that country - and that is exactly what has happened to our country now," said professor Tinyiko Maluleke, executive director at the University of South Africa's (Unisa) research department.
"[It is] a huge, huge publicity disaster for our country."
Maluleke said he was "astounded" at the way the government handled the Tibetan spiritual leader's visa application.
The Dalai Lama announced on Tuesday that he had cancelled a planned trip to South Africa to attend Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu's 80th birthday celebrations at the weekend.
He had cancelled the trip because no visa had been granted to him.
"I think it is quite astounding that the Dalai Lama is refused entry into this country, it doesn't make sense at all," Maluleke told SAfm.
"I think that the government is disrespectful of us, the citizens of this country. At least by now, they should have issued an explanation as to why they have behaved the way they have done, and not just to the Dalai Lama or to Tutu, but to the citizens of this country."
He said it would have been in South Africa's interest to host the Dalai Lama.
"It's probable that China has put some pressure on the government. We don't know, but at the end of the day it is not about China, it is about South Africa.
Sad day in South Africa
"Why is South Africa allowing itself to act in this manner when it has the history that it has, the Constitution that it has... led by the government of a liberation movement. Why is South Africa doing this? I think it is quite sad day in South Africa."
It is widely believed the government had buckled under pressure from China - its biggest trading partner - which deems the Tibetan spiritual leader a "splittist" and discourages foreign leaders from hosting him.
Tutu made front-page headlines on Wednesday after responding angrily to the visa debacle and saying that he would pray for the downfall of the ANC.
"I think that the archbishop's reaction is quite understandable... it's a reaction of anger and disappointment. I think all those words about praying for the downfall of the ANC government are really a signal of frustration," said Maluleke.