SA did not deny Dalai Lama - dept

2011-10-05 13:13

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Johannesburg - South Africa has not denied the Dalai Lama a visa, international relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela said on Wednesday.

He said the government was still deciding on the visa application when the Tibetan spiritual leader cancelled his trip.

"The SA government had not denied him a visa. We did not say no to him. [His application] was being considered when he decided to cancel."

He said it was difficult to say how long a decision on the application would have taken, but said a visa could take up to two months to process.

The Dalai Lama had applied for a visa to attend Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu's 80th birthday celebration this weekend, but withdrew his application on Tuesday to save the South African government the "inconvenience".

He cancelled the trip because no visa had been granted to him.

Incomplete application


Monyela said the spiritual leader had admitted in a statement that his first visa application in August was incomplete.

"There was acknowledgement or admission that he only submitted his original passport on September 20... a period of roughly two weeks [ago]."

The Office of Tibet in Pretoria said last week the department had all the documentation required to make a decision on the visa.

The passport was submitted as soon as the Dalai Lama returned from a visit to South America.

Monyela said: "No government will process an incomplete [application]."

On Wednesday, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe told The Star newspaper he believed a visa would have been granted if the trip had not been cancelled.

No pressure

"Of course, he has been here before. I don't see why it should be an issue at all," he was quoted as saying.

Motlanthe, who recently concluded a trip to China, denied there had been pressure from Beijing not to grant the Dalai Lama the visa.

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.

On Tuesday, Tutu reacted to Dalai Lama's still not having been granted a visa to visit the country, by saying South Africans would pray for the downfall of the ANC.

"We will pray as we prayed for the downfall of the apartheid government. We will pray for the downfall of a government that misrepresents us," Tutu told reporters in Cape Town.

He equated the ANC government to the "repressive and divisive" apartheid regime.

The ANC said Tutu's reaction was "unfortunate".

"They are not the same and to say ANC has gone worse... The bishop knows it well deep down his heart, mind and soul that that's a total untruth," African National Congress spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said.

- SAPA

Read more on:    international relations  |  dalai lama  |  desmond tutu  |  kgalema motlanthe  |  china  |  sa  |  tibet
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