Outcry as Dalai Lama cancels SA trip

2011-10-04 14:30

Cape Town - South Africa's foreign policy was slammed as naive and contrary to the Constitution after the Dalai Lama on Tuesday cancelled his planned trip to South Africa because he was not granted a visa in time.

The Desmond Tutu Peace Centre said the decision, after a fruitless five-week wait for a visa to attend the archbishop emeritus's 80th birthday, marked a sad day.

"I do not even have the words to say how sad I feel. This is the darkest day," said the centre's spokesperson Nomfundo Wazala.


In a statement issued in India, where he lives in exile, the Dalai Lama said he had wanted to spare the South African government any further inconvenience but was sorry to disappoint his followers.

"His Holiness was to depart for South Africa on October 6, but visas have not been granted yet," the Dalai Lama said.

"We are, therefore, now convinced that for whatever reason or reasons, the South African government finds it inconvenient to issue a visa to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

"His Holiness has thus decided to call off his upcoming visit to South Africa, and he regrets the inconvenience caused to his hosts and the large number of the South African public who are keenly waiting to receive him and hear his message."

It is widely believed that the government buckled under pressure from China - its biggest trading partner - which deems the Tibetan spiritual leader a "splittist" and discourages foreign leaders from hosting him.

Civil society coalition "Let Him in Now!" which held a candlelight vigil at Parliament on Monday to demand a visa for the Dalai Lama, said that although the visit was cancelled the issues at stake could not be ignored.

"The Dalai Lama’s humble decision should not in any manner remove the focus on the unaccountable, secretive and disrespectful way in which the South African government has dealt with this matter.

"This matter once again highlights that SA’s foreign policy is misaligned with our Constitution and the values contained in it."

The Dalai Lama visited South Africa in 1996, 1999 and 2004 and was received by former presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki.

In 2009, he was refused entry by the Zuma administration to attend a conference of Nobel laureates.

Brics membership

Political analyst Steven Friedman said the shift in foreign policy was likely, and wrongly, influenced by South Africa's recent inclusion in the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India and China and South Africa) bloc of emerging economic powers.

"The reality is that now the primary economic relationship we have in the world is the Brics relationship and this leads to decisions like this.

"But the idea, quite frankly, that international trading relations would be made or broken by receiving the Dalai Lama shows a total misunderstanding of the way the world works."

He said US President Barack Obama clearly understood this when he received the Dalai Lama at the White House in July in defiance of China's stance on Tibet.

"China invests in Africa because it has important economic and strategic relationships here. Our relationship does not hinge on whether we grant entrance to the Dalai Lama or not.

"South Africans should be really worried that they have people in positions of authority who think it is the way it works."

Government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi declined to comment.

The Dalai Lama had planned to spend eight days in South Africa.

He was due to deliver an inaugural peace lecture at the University of the Western Cape as part of Tutu's birthday celebrations and was also invited to speak at the University of the Witwatersrand.


Wits vice chancellor and principal Loyiso Nongxa expressed his dismay at the turn of events.

"We, as South Africans, have a moral obligation to provide a platform for all voices to be heard, including the voice of the Dalai Lama.

"The state's deliberate indecision ridicules the values pertaining to freedom of speech, expression and movement enshrined in our Constitution, and the freedoms for which so many South African have lived, and indeed died," he said.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions has criticised the government for allowing China to "dictate" its foreign policy.

"Even though China is our biggest trading partner, we should not exchange our morality for dollars or yuan," Cosatu's Western Cape leader Tony Ehrenreich said.

The Democratic Alliance said it would submit parliamentary questions asking International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane to explain the government's handling of the matter.

"The inescapable conclusion is that the South African government has predictably strung the Dalai Lama along to make it impossible for him to plan his trip," spokesperson Stevens Mokgalapa said.

"But by delaying the decision on the Dalai Lama's visa, the government made its choice. It allowed China to dictate its foreign policy."

Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi commented that it "was another blight on our reputation that the South African government gave in to pressure".

Businesswoman Mamphela Ramphele said both Tutu and the Dalai Lama had been unfairly treated.

"Isn't it ironic that when he's celebrating his 80th birthday, the most fundamental right, the right to association, is being taken away from him?" Ramphele said.

  • Pixie1984 - 2011-10-04 14:36

    Rinse. Repeat.

      farmworker - 2011-10-04 15:11

      Okay.So what do I do now? Do I put this Dalai Lama Visa Application aside or do I just reject it. I am confused now, okay I will state that the Applicant withdrew his application

      Slartibartfast - 2011-10-04 15:12

      Good grief!! Where did Clive the Troll's comment go? I wanted to study it some more to understand this skewed way of thinking a bit more. But anyway!!

  • Realistiqly - 2011-10-04 14:41

    He would probably be asked to come for Tutu's funeral when the man is no longer with us. It is so pathetic and predictable.

  • Boxxer - 2011-10-04 14:43

    Let's see who Mr. Zuma invites to his 70'th next year.

  • beicime - 2011-10-04 14:44

    The ANC like most governments in Africa couldn't care less about the constitution and they will change it to meet its interests. Ignoring the Dalai Lama request for a VISA is for sure a disgusting attitude from a government with African solutions for Africa probems and yet fails its people everyday.

      Sedick - 2011-10-04 22:05

      "This matter once again highlights that SA’s foreign policy is misaligned with our Constitution and the values contained in it.".........The fact of the matter is that the ANC policy is misaligned with our Constitution.......They are busy copying and pasting the old Apartheid policies.....the light of the "New South Africa" is growing dimmer by the day!!!!!

  • Vela Stardust - 2011-10-04 14:44

    China = lots of counterfeit goods, no rhino, no abalone and no Dalai Lama.

      OMO - 2011-10-04 15:23

      it works like this..... the trade unions mess up our manufacturing industry and make us totally dependant on China. now they call the shots!

      Together - 2011-10-04 15:59

      and to get it right they round up dancing crowds of workers, right? Wake up, workers - this is a dead-end road for you.

  • ChippeScooter - 2011-10-04 14:46

    An absolute disgrace, and an extreme embarrassment to reject a man of peace to visit our shores due to the greed and lack of moral of this ANC administration. I am utterly dismayed at the lack of respect that the very government that has fought for freedom and liberties that it now enjoys, to show contempt to a man that has longed for those very basic rights as a human being. Disgraceful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • gary.dasilva - 2011-10-04 14:53

    So the rot of of our once very high moral standing in the global community continues. HOw absured and what a shame

  • Stephen - 2011-10-04 14:54

    LOL I love it when from time to time the outside world gets a peak through the wool over their eyes that is their ignorance and neo-liberalism, and gets a glance of what the ANC really is.

  • gary.dasilva - 2011-10-04 14:58

    This goverment is no longer for the people by the people - This failure to allow the Dalai Lama into South Africa has gone against the express will of the people shame on you cANCer goiverment

  • ItsBroken - 2011-10-04 15:00

    He cant come because we cannot nationalise him.... Failure

  • Vuzi - 2011-10-04 15:00

    And this, fellow taxpayers of Mzanzi, is what you support every day when you pitch at work, and labour for 3.2 hours every day (minimum). Hope that makes you proud.

      Slartibartfast - 2011-10-04 15:08

      Good grief Vuzi ... I work 14 hours a day!! Wish I had that "minimum" job and didn't pay tax like 40 million of my brothers!!!

      Tolerant - 2011-10-04 15:20

      I would not mind this job, ha ha.

      JudithNkwe - 2011-10-04 15:49

      I think Vuzi meant that that is how long we have to work every day for the government to have our taxes

      SB - 2011-10-04 16:19

      Sounds to me like Vuzi was referring to government...

  • Mike - 2011-10-04 15:05

    Our goverment is in disarray and is summed up as follows. George Bernard Shaw Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few. George Bernard Shaw

  • Daemos1 - 2011-10-04 15:11

    Should we rename SA "little beijing" now, or should we wait for Chinese to becnome our 14th official language has anyone tried eating pap with chopsticks?

  • vatNiekak - 2011-10-04 15:18

    this Dalai Lama is not Mandela people..i have been reading the Dalai lama saga the whole day here..nee man!

      MM - 2011-10-04 15:29

      its your choice, you can simply not read if you dont want....anyways there is more at stake here than the Dalai Lama, the issue is if we bow down to this, its a downhill from here, its Dalai Lama today, its me and you tomorrow...

  • Free-Shaun - 2011-10-04 15:26

    His Holiness can offer nothing more than a blessing and a life lesson in the battle against discrimination, opression, and prejudice, the Chinese have money, bursaries, loans and exploitation and gifts, so it was a no brainer for the Government!Rot in hell you worms of society

  • Alan - 2011-10-04 15:32

    This is a shocking display of incompetence by our Govt., or else a shocking display of weakness by the Govt. who will not stand up to their Chinese Puppet Masters, in blatant contradiction of our Constitution. I mean - we will let the likes of Mugabe into SA for medical treatment. We have a Cabinet, Goverment, Municipatilies, Police and Metro forces riddled with corruption. But we cannot let one of the World's most Peace Promoting people into our country. Sorry folks - but our Govt. has no credibilty whatsoever.

  • Rob - 2011-10-04 15:37

    Beijing, the new colonial Baas eh?

  • birdman - 2011-10-04 15:40

    Everyone - stop antagonising over the fact that in SA the DL is persona non grata. For the supply of arms and ammunition including landmines during the "struggle", the Chineese piper is now demanding to be paid and is taking over controlof our country. The ANC who were supplied these weapons are now bent over the barrel with their pants around their ankles whilst the Chineese do whatever they like. The underpaid textile workers in Ladysmith - Chineese owned businesses. The crap cars that are flooding into our country - Chineese. The pirated DVD's and electronic ripoffs - Chineese. Crap clothing that washes once - Chineese. Why does the ANC allow this to the detriment of local business? Because they have to pay the piper!

  • frankm - 2011-10-04 15:45

    And this from a government that is willing to let Gadafi in? Its mind bogling

  • Seven9 - 2011-10-04 15:48

    The more i read about this story the more annoyed i get...... How dare the ANC act like this, when once they were the ones who were refused entry!

  • Cacophony82 - 2011-10-04 15:52

    One should not ask why did South Africa not grant a visa to the Dalai Lama. Instead maybe we should ask the following: Why do we need so much foreign investment from China when history (even if some of it was appalling) has shown that South Africa can in fact be the investor? We have all the resources, just none of the know how or will power where it matters. Since 1994 for example we have gone from a net exporter of food to having to import most of our food based solely on the fact that the ANC cannot and will never be able to run this country effectively while the old guys are still there because almost everybody in office today was given training in how to fight with others and among themselves instead of training in basic freaking math. Mudslinging is not a sport and it does not take a scientist to know that if you have so much to offer in terms of resources especially scarce mineral resources as South Africa, that you should be the one holding the key to the proverbial safe, not the toddler crying because Big Mommy investor took away my sweets for playing with somebody that she didn't like . China is an investor, yes, but they are not South Africa and they do not dictate our foreign policy. If they want our minerals then they should buy them on our terms. 1+1 = 2 not 3 or 4 or 5. Eish

      MSGRule - 2011-10-04 16:01

      China is not an investor...China is rash that spreads over the planet and wants to take owenership. They started in Africa off course, becuase it is unstable and weak to the money carrots.

  • DaBoyz - 2011-10-04 15:59

    Our country is opened to the Astridis, Mogabes, Gadaffis of the world but not for those who can make positive contribution to mankind. OOPS SA government is not mankind..

  • Rumbler - 2011-10-04 16:04

    What a crying shame! SHAME ON YOU ANC! :~(

  • Grant - 2011-10-04 16:07

    WELL DONE S.A goverment.. That is what you call service at its best,, at least its not just us locals that get that "SPEEDY' service we have all come to know..

  • Johnno - 2011-10-04 16:07

    what a pathetic govt we have - crawling up chinese arses

  • rory - 2011-10-04 16:08

    I am in total agreement with this: "Even though China is our biggest trading partner, we should not exchange our morality for dollars or yuan," Cosatu's Western Cape leader Tony Ehrenreich said. And with this: "Isn't it ironic that when he's celebrating his 80th birthday [Desmond Tutu], the most fundamental right, the right to association, is being taken away from him?" Ramphele said. 'By their fruits you shall know them'. The effective rejection, by the SA government, of the Dalai Lama's visit to attend Desmond Tutu's 80th birthday party is a poisoned fruit of that I have no doubt. That the wishes of an outstanding veteran of our collective struggle to rid ourselves of Apartheid and all that it stood for, Desmond Tutu, have been spurned in this way is utterly despicable. It demonstrates that those who are for ever claiming to have inherited the mantle of the struggle are actually in no way fit to wear it.

  • justasking - 2011-10-04 16:14

    How many Chinese T-shirts were the ANC promised for the next election to refuse the Dalai Lama a visa?

  • Vincent - 2011-10-04 16:17

    the Dalai Lama is not welcome here... but Bob most certainly is.

  • S - 2011-10-04 16:21

    Maby the Dalai Lama is scared of the sharks? "I do not even have the words to say how sad I feel. This is the darkest day," - hahaha shame, how empty must his life be??

  • Colline - 2011-10-04 16:22

    what a frikkin embarassment this government is!

  • Oboa - 2011-10-04 16:24

    Well, I would suggest cutting all ties with China to prevent them grabbing us by the balls like they are with the US but I guess it's too late for that.

  • Dharmesh - 2011-10-04 16:25

    So we let people out of jail when they have a bogus terminal illness but we can't issue the Dalai Lama a visa????

  • LouisFLY - 2011-10-04 16:30

    So has SA government lost the last of it's backbone, bowing down to China..

  • Liberated - 2011-10-04 16:36

    dont be fooled, the Dalai Lama is no spiritual leader. Juss some oke who decided to make money by pretending to be humble. A true spiritual leader is no coward who fears persecution, he stays with his people. Go back to Tibet first and we will give you a VISA.

      yy - 2011-10-04 16:52

      thumb up

      Voyager - 2011-10-04 16:58

      Why don't you tell that to all the cANCer leaders who went into exile?

  • yy - 2011-10-04 16:39

    It is so not fair that the whole world is blaming China for all the things that went wrong, unemployment, recession, commodity prices...China supported Desmond Tutu during the Apartheid era and yet he cannot pay the least respect to a country's sovereign unity. The whole world is brainwashed by the Western media when the West does not even have encourage to admit that its continuing interest in Tibet. Please go read and understand the history of China before commenting on issues like this. Maybe the Chinese currency is undervalued, but one cannot dispute the fact that we deliver more efficiency. I have been in SA for 15 years, I love this country and I hate to see the 50% unemployment rate in youth. It is important to establish a dedicating work attitude and gradually reduce the reliance on the government to provide everything. I am a Christian but I am really disappointed in Tutu constantly causing uproars in issues regarding Dalai Lama. Would those South Africans support Dalai Lama like they are now if Dalai Lama were to constantly push for the secession of South Africa instead of China. He is just another tool used by the West against China. Have FAITH in God, Treat each other with LOVE, Live life with HOPE.

  • yy - 2011-10-04 16:45

    By the way, Tutu has real estates in the US and Europe and spend half of his time enjoying his retirement there while 80% of South Africans struggle to provide for their family. Stop idolise a person, he is not a God but a human being.

  • David - 2011-10-04 16:52

    Pity Mugabe and Gadaffi weren't invited we would love to have seen Governments response and action to that. A sad day for us all. Please use your voices in the next election to show them how dissapointed, mad and against this we are.

  • toleranne - 2011-10-04 17:26

    The Dalai Lama is a great man and a humble human being. The SA government is unlikely to have the sophistication to understand the rebuke and (very polite) insult to it from the DL. If you ask a parliamentary question of the Minister of International Relations, she will answer that her dept does not issue visas. If you ask the questiojn of Home Affairs, they will play innocent and say they were still working on it, that the DL's cancellation preemted the decision. Like we are all that naive, sure ... This is how the SA government proves to the world what a champion it is of a human rights culture, rights such as freedom of association, freedom of thought, freedom of movement. Not to mention the so-idealistic Batho Pele, which guarantees customer service (including timeous action) and administrative fairness. I wish ...

  • Maleo - 2011-10-04 17:51

    So the guy lives in India -- and that is a BRICS country! So what's the big deal for SA to not allow him in? An JZ doesn't even know about what's going on -- pathetic!

  • george60 - 2011-10-04 17:57

    Sorry uncle Tutu your friend Zuma has dropped you again? You see the whole Zuma clan have been to China early this year at our expense and the Zuma cronies will get the Railway infrastructure contracts. We talk billions. So Zuma cannot embarrass the chinks? Life is so unfair, so uncle Tutu fine Zuma a compulsory self enrichment tax payment?

  • Andries - 2011-10-04 20:27

    Wonderful example of the democratic values of the new South Africa when it has sold out its soul to China for monetary gain! Beware South Africa : The West and the rest of the world are taking notice whom you are siding with, eg. Gadaffi, Palestinians, China, the list goes on!

  • seshike mmoledi - 2011-10-04 20:31

    If denying Dalai Lama is for the interest of the South African economy so be it as we can not suffer economically because of one person. The only thing the government should do is not to enter in treaties with countries that will in turn use those treaties or economic help they offer to threaten us as the Nation or dictate on our government on what to do and not, and our government also should not allow that to happen as we are a country which is a sovereign and no country what so ever should dictate to us, so our government must look and watch at that especially China.

  • Bernard - 2011-10-05 06:48

    The ANC has made a mockery of Mandela's legacy and we are once again laughed at. I am afraid the damage cannot be reversed. STILL people will continue to support the ANC, because they simply do not have the intellectual ability to realize their mistake. The problem here is analogous to someone who doesn’t know a great deal about grammar. Because they lack the knowledge of grammar, they simply don’t understand when they are making mistakes. Moreover, they are quite likely to imagine that their faulty constructions are, in fact, just fine. You can’t simply tell them that they are wrong because they won’t believe you. The beginning of understanding and wisdom starts with the acknowledgement of ignorance.

  • Stuart - 2011-10-05 08:14

    We have access to all our borders from zimbabwe,malawi,mozambique,on a mere id document one is granted a 30 day visa at the border we have absolutely millions of people coming into our country with very little formal application or control, isnt it a little ironic that this innocent old man cant get a visa no matter how famous he is? something very wrong here!!

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