DHARAMSHALA, December 5: South Africa’s Home Affairs Ministry, which had handled the Dalai Lama’s visa application last October, has for the first time openly admitted that it feared of a backlash from China if they allowed the Dalai Lama to visit.
Further, the ministry suggested in court papers that the Dalai Lama won’t be granted a visa to visit South Africa in the near future.
The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader had cancelled his planned visit to the African nation to attend the 80th birthday celebrations of fellow Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu after continued delays by the South African government in issuing him a visa.
In a statement released December 2, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, MP and the Hon. Mosiuoa Lekota MP of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) stated that they had filed replying affidavits in respect of their High Court application to declare the “unlawfulness and unconstitutionality” of the Government’s refusal to grant an entry to the Dalai Lama.
In their replying affidavits the Hon. Lekota and Buthelezi point out how such conduct violates both legality and decency.
In reply, home affairs director general Mkhuseli Apleni said the ¬department had to consider South ¬Africa’s relations with China and the “impact the Dalai Lama’s visa application would have had on trade and foreign relations”.
Apleni in his response also reminded of China’s investments in South African business sectors like telecommunications and mining.
Although in the reply, the home affairs ministry maintained that they did not “refuse” the Dalai Lama’s visa but rather had “no time” to decide on the matter, the IFP leaders pointed out that the Dalai Lama had duly applied for visa in accordance with the government’s procedures.
“This in spite of the Dalai Lama having first sought to apply four months in advance of his trip, to be told that he was way early and should come back two months later, which he did. This in spite of all facts and circumstances relating to the Dalai Lama being known, both universally and to the South African Government,” the IFP leaders stated in their replying affidavit.
The next hearing asking for an order to force the home department to consider giving a visa to the Dalai Lama for a planned event in March next year is set for tomorrow.