ANC: Dalai Lama court bid silly
Johannesburg - The application for an order to declare the government's handling of the Dalai Lama's visa request as unlawful is "astonishing silliness", the ANC said on Tuesday.
"The two parties [Inkatha Freedom Party and the Congress of the People] very much know this," the party's Parliamentary caucus said in a statement.
"The decision... is nothing short of astonishing silliness and political shallowness. It is a bizarre publicity tactic..."
The IFP and Cope filed an application in the Western Cape High Court on Monday for an order declaring the government's handling of the Dalai Lama's visa request unlawful and forcing it to treat future applications by him fairly.
The two parties said the state had been widely condemned for its second failure in two years to allow Tibet's spiritual leader to come to South Africa, but this was not enough.
"We cannot allow this wrong to stand. It is a flagrant wrong, repeated twice," said IFP MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini.
The ANC Parliamentary caucus said it defeated logic for Cope and IFP to run to courts on a matter that they could have raised within Parliament.
"The notion that government has violated the constitution on the Dalai Lama matter is misguided and cannot be backed up by facts," it said.
"Such spurious court actions may win the two parties a few headlines in the media, but they waste courts' time and add unnecessary workload to our already overworked courts."
The caucus said the parties had embarked on this court action regardless of its "frivolity", for the sake of scoring few political points and cheap publicity.
"A court challenge brought about by such motives is bound to fail," it said.
Documents tabled at court on Monday included affidavits by the Dalai Lama's representative for Africa, Sonam Tenzing, explaining how both a visa application in 2009 and another filed in September were frustrated.
The Dalai Lama finally cancelled his trip to South Africa to attend Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu's 80th birthday on October 7.
The government has been accused of bowing to pressure from China, which deems the Dalai Lama a separatist and discourages foreign nations from hosting him.
The IFP brought a court application in 2009 to have the government's decision not to grant the Dalai Lama a visa overturned.
The Western Cape Cape High Court threw out the case and the party then took it to the Constitutional Court, but it has not yet been heard.
The new application would override the earlier one, the IFP said.
The Dalai Lama may apply for a visa for the third time after IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi invited him to attend a prayer meeting on Human Rights Day next March.