Dalai Lama visa 'inconvenient' for SA

2011-10-04 12:08

Cape Town - The Dalai Lama said on Tuesday that he had cancelled his planned trip to South Africa to spare the government any further inconvenience.

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader made the decision as he was still waiting for a response to his visa application three days before he was due in South Africa to attend the birthday of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

"His Holiness was to depart for South Africa on October 6, but visas have not been granted yet," his office said in a statement.

"We are, therefore, now convinced that for whatever reason or reasons, the South African government finds it inconvenient to issue a visa to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

"His Holiness has thus decided to call off his upcoming visit to South Africa, and he regrets the inconvenience caused to his hosts and the large number of the South African public who are keenly waiting to receive him and hear his message."

'Darkest day'

The Desmond Tutu Peace Centre lamented the government's reluctance to allow one of the world's best known religious figures into the country.

"I do not even have the words to say how sad I feel. This is the darkest day. Our officials felt it was not even important to respond to his application," said the centre's spokesperson Nomfundo Wazala.

The University of the Witwatersrand also expressed dismay.

"We, as South Africans, have a moral obligation to provide a platform for all voices to be heard, including the voice of the Dalai Lama.

"The university condemns the state for once again not granting a visa for this stalwart of peace to enter our country," said Prof Loyiso Nongxa, the university's vice-chancellor and principal.

"The state's deliberate indecision ridicules the values pertaining to freedom of speech, expression and movement enshrined in our Constitution, and the freedoms for which so many South African have lived, and indeed died," he said.

The Dalai Lama applied for a visa in August, but after weeks of official silence on the matter it was widely expected that the government would again bow to pressure from China, its biggest trade partner.

Beijing describes the Dalai Lama as a "splittist" and discourages foreign governments from receiving him, even though he accepts Chinese rule of Tibet.


At a candlelight vigil outside Parliament on Monday, the Congress of SA Trade Unions criticised the government for allowing China to "dictate" its foreign policy.

"Even though China is our biggest trading partner, we should not exchange our morality for dollars or yuan," Cosatu's Western Cape leader Tony Ehrenreich told the gathering.

"It is completely inappropriate and discriminatory that the Dalai Lama should be denied access. Our democracy is founded on diversity, imperfect as it is."

Businesswoman Mamphela Ramphele said at the vigil that both Tutu and the Dalai Lama had been unfairly treated.

"Isn't it ironic that when he's celebrating his 80th birthday, the most fundamental right, the right to association, is being taken away from him?

"He can't have a party with his friends and they are just old men," Ramphele said, according to an SABC radio news report.

She said Tutu and the Dalai Lama were "not really a threat to anybody".

'Not fair'

"So why would anybody really want to disturb a lovely party for a lovely set of old men? It's really not fair."

The trip would have been the Nobel peace laureate's fourth to South Africa.

The Dalai Lama visited South Africa on three occasions between 1996 and 2004, and met former presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki.

In 2009, he was refused entry by the Zuma administration to attend a conference of Nobel laureates.

The government said the visit would detract from preparations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

That decision drew sharp criticism from abroad and at home.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

Boks set to turn new Paige at No 9
Probe into England RWC exit on the rocks
Boks could get posh England base
Wallaby stars to join Boks at BaaBaas
Traffic Alerts

Relationships and significant connections may play an important role in your day today. Let the warmth of the Leo moon inspire you...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.