Govt dishonest over Dalai Lama - Cope
Cape Town - The Congress of the People accused the government of "blatant dishonesty" on Wednesday over the Dalai Lama's visa application.
Cope condemned the erosion of the rights of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and the citizens of the country, party leader Mosiuoa Lekota said.
"We reject with contempt the blatant dishonesty of government that had the Dalai Lama not withdrawn his application they would have granted his right to visit."
It was clear that like the previous apartheid regime, the current government was set to trample underfoot the rights of citizens to freedom of association by picking and choosing who citizens might have as friends and associates.
"This is another proof that our Constitution is in danger from the ruling party. Cope calls on citizens to raise their voices against this encroaching tyranny by the ruling party," Lekota said.
'Sad day in South Africa'
The Star newspaper quoted Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe as having said that the government was planning to grant the Dalai Lama a visa to attend Tutu's 80th birthday bash this weekend.
"Of course, he has been here before. I don't see why it [the visa] should be an issue at all," he told the paper.
Further criticism came from United Democratic Movement secretary general Bongani Msomi.
"It is a sad day in South Africa, where a nation, who knows the suffering of domination and cruelty, turns a blind eye to oppression elsewhere in the world."
This was the unfortunate impression South Africans and the world were left with of the ANC government regarding the plight of the people of Tibet.
The government could deny outside pressure [from China] to deny the Dalai Lama access to South Africa "as much as they like - the impression they give is to the contrary", he said.
It did not take genius to understand where the so-called democratic government's, and the ANC's, strings were pulled from. South Africa, by virtue of the liberation of its entire people, enjoyed the admiration and respect of the world.
"Yet, this government seems quite willing, even eager, to sully our reputation as champions of human rights and freedom for all," Msomi said.
Meanwhile, Anglican bishops in the Western Cape have charged government with "bureaucratic obfuscation" in its explanations about the matter.
This emerged in a joint statement by False Bay Bishop Merwyn Castle, Bishop Garth Counsell of Table Bay, and Bishop Raphael Hess of Saldanha Bay.
"We... express our dismay at the South African government's delay in granting the Dalai Lama a visa, to enable him to attend the 80th birthday celebration of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu," they said.
"We are saddened by the bureaucratic obfuscation created by the South African government in justifying this tragic and unacceptable outcome.
"We understand the expressions of anger by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and assure him of our continued prayerful support," the trio said.