Govt 'dragging its feet' over Dalai Lama
Johannesburg - Desmond Tutu on Monday accused the government of dragging its feet over the visa application of the Dalai Lama, who has been invited to attend the former archbishop's 80th birthday party.
"The only response to the letters received to date have been acknowledgements of receipt," said a statement by Tutu's office.
Tutu invited the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader and fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate to give a lecture as part of his 80th birthday celebrations next month but officials have so far failed to react to the visa application.
The activist's birthday will also include a book launch on October 6 and a public church service followed by an invite-only picnic party on his actual birthday the next day.
"The lack of a decision on whether or not our government will allow His Holiness into the country is proving a major stumbling block for the organisers of the celebrations, including the inaugural Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture," said a letter to the deputy minister of foreign affairs by Desmond Tutu's Peace Centre.
The letter dated September 26 was the third addressed to Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Ebrahim Ebrahim since September 7.
In 2009, Tutu criticised a decision to bar the Dalai Lama from attending a peace conference in Johannesburg, with the government saying that it did not want to jeopardise relations with key trade partner China.
The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since 1959 when he fled an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet.