Motlanthe ‘can’t get involved with visas’

2011-10-06 07:16

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe cannot get involved with the issuing of visas, his spokesperson has said.

In an open letter sent to the deputy president last night, the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre asked Motlanthe to rectify the injustice around the Dalai Lama visa debacle and ensure that he was granted a visa.

“It is unlikely that he [Motlanthe] has seen the letter yet ... when he gets to the office I’m sure he will refer it to the department that deals with visas,” his spokesperson Thabo Masebe said this morning.

“The deputy president cannot get involved with visas.”

Masebe said Motlanthe would probably refer the letter to the departments of home affairs and international relations, and they would continue with the process.

In the letter, the peace centre’s Dumisa Ntsebeza asked Motlanthe to ensure that the Tibetan spiritual leader was granted a visa this morning.

Newspaper reports quoted Motlanthe yesterday saying the government was planning to grant the Dalai Lama a visa.

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

It was widely believed the government had buckled under pressure from China – its biggest trading partner – which deemed the Tibetan spiritual leader a separatist and discouraged foreign leaders from hosting him.

In light of Motlanthe’s comments, Ntsebeza said the foundation had requested the Dalai Lama to consider travelling to South Africa after all.

The Dalai Lama was due to deliver the inaugural Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture at the University of the Western Cape on Saturday. He also had engagements in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

All of this was contingent on the visa being granted by the South African High Commission in New Delhi.

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