Dalai Lama still waiting for visa decision

2011-10-03 16:15

Cape Town - The Dalai Lama was on Monday afternoon still waiting to hear whether he would get a visa to South Africa, a representative of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader said.

"We have not been told anything. I spoke to my colleague in New Delhi and they are still waiting. The high commission has closed now for the day," Sonam Tenzing said.

Tenzing said high commission staff in the Indian capital told his colleagues they were still awaiting a decision from Pretoria "because it is a political decision".

The Dalai Lama, 76, is hoping to travel to Cape Town to attend the 80th birthday celebrations of his friend and fellow Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on Friday.

With time running out, international relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela indicated on Monday a decision was imminent, but would be communicated only to the Dalai Lama and not the media.

"We will communicate the decision to the applicant, which we are doing now," Monyela told Sapa.

He conceded the matter was of public interest as it concerned South Africa's foreign policy on China - the country's biggest trading partner - and Chinese-ruled Tibet.

"That is why we are dealing with it," he said.


But Monyela declined to comment on suggestions from diplomats in New Delhi that it was a top level decision that would be taken by Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane herself.

Earlier on Monday, President Jacob Zuma said he had no hand the decision.

He told a business breakfast in Johannesburg: "I don't know what will be the final thing. I don't think that you can get a definite answer from me."

City Press quoted an unnamed diplomatic source on Sunday as saying it was "unlikely" the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader would be granted a visa, because the government did not want to strain its ties with China.

The Dalai Lama, 76, applied for the visa in August.

He 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. The decision drew criticism from abroad and at home, with then public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan saying it reflected poorly on the government.

"Just the very fact that this government has refused entry to the Dalai Lama is an example of a government who is dismissive of human rights," said Hogan.

She was reprimanded and forced to apologise to her Cabinet colleagues. Tutu termed the decision "disgraceful" and University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) vice chancellor and principal Loyiso Nongxa said it "ridicules the values enshrined in our Constitution".

Wits has again invited the Dalai Lama to speak at the university and another outcry is expected if he is again denied entry into South Africa.


On Monday night, civil society campaigners were to hold a candlelight vigil outside Parliament to put pressure on the government.

The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since fleeing Tibet during a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

He accepts Chinese rule, but Beijing accuses him of being a separatist and routinely warns government leaders against meeting with him. In July, China signalled its displeasure after United States President Barack Obama received the Dalai Lama at the White House.

The Dalai Lama stepped down from political life earlier this year and was not due to meet any senior government officials during his planned eight-day trip to South Africa.

As part of Tutu's birthday celebrations from October 6 to 8, he was expected to deliver a speech titled "Peace and compassion as catalyst for change" to students.

  • Banana_Republic - 2011-10-03 16:25

    Welcome to China's newest province Wun Long Pong, previously known as the Republic of South Africa.

      Tolerant - 2011-10-03 16:27

      I agree, Gov. officials are Chinese puppets.

      IC1 - 2011-10-03 16:38

      Nice 1 lol

      mo-man - 2011-10-03 16:41

      Good one!!

      willieman - 2011-10-03 16:52

      China dumped their cheap clothes in SA.All the textile industries are closed many people lost their jobs ,ANC is happy about that.Thats is why they happy not to allow Dalai in here.They have CONVINIENTLY FORGOT WHERE THEY COME FROM

  • Christo - 2011-10-03 16:27

    What did the Dalai Lama say to the boerewors vendor? Make me one with everything. The vendor said "that will be R10 " and the Dalai Lama handed him a twenty.And waited. The Dalia Lama said "Hey where's my change?" The vendor said "change must come from within"

  • amabok - 2011-10-03 16:29

    You can't get a definite answer from Zuma on anything. At least he's consistently ambiguous and the country consistently rudderless.

  • maloplakhath - 2011-10-03 16:32


      Banana_Republic - 2011-10-03 16:36

      Me too, we should rather hand out visas to those well known humanitarians like Ghadaffi, Castro, Mugabe and that pleasant fellow from North Korea

      mo-man - 2011-10-03 16:42

      @ maloplakhath: Jy's nie baie skerp nie!

  • Vela Stardust - 2011-10-03 16:34

    If The Dalai Lama is not granted a visa, ANC government will be making yet another unpopular decisions that voters will remember next elections. The more unhappy voters the ANC have the better.

      K-NINE - 2011-10-03 16:42

      Unfortunately the majority of the voters don't understand the situation or even who the Dalai Lama is. The poor buggers are completely brain washed by the ANC braatha's.

      marcan - 2011-10-03 18:01

      Agree there with you K-nine, The majority of SA voters are brainless and spineless sheep, following the rest of the masses. They are poorly informed, watching only SABC, reading occasionally, for the most only Daily Sun, and the Sowetan.

  • mandy thompson - 2011-10-03 16:38

    What a charade!Firstly Tutu knows what inviting Lama would do... so here goes a fruitless debate and by that time Zuma will be out of office!!!!

  • werner.coetzer - 2011-10-03 16:39

    SA becoming China's whore

      mo-man - 2011-10-03 16:44

      Where is my rhino horn....bitch?!?

  • Tassenberg - 2011-10-03 16:41

    I'm just wondering what the goverment would do if some country rejected a Visa for Madiba, due to the fact that he was on the terrorist watchlist of the CIA in the 60's.

  • IC1 - 2011-10-03 16:42

    It will be declined and he will only get the notification after TuTu's birthday has come and gone, EISH!!! The problem she's one, we lost the application and then it mysteriously reappeared in Delhi. Because why we cant take the blame for that! EISH Zuma and the govt deeply regret this EISH (said with index finger deeply inserted in left nostril)

  • Boxxer - 2011-10-03 16:46

    The ANC are nothing but a bunch of thugs rather than the freedom fighters they claimed to be.

  • maloplakhath - 2011-10-03 16:51

    How about granting him the Visa after the weekend in that way he'll not be a nuisance in Tutu's birthday

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