/ 31 March 2009

Buthelezi’s Dalai Lama application set for Thursday

An urgent application by Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi to force the government to grant a visa to the Dalai Lama will take place in the Western Cape Division of the High Court on Thursday afternoon, Buthelezi’s advisor said on Tuesday.

Mario Oriani-Ambrosini said the party had evidence that the South African High Commission in India refused to accept a visa application form from the Dalai Lama.

”It is outrageous that the government is taking a position that it did not process the visa because the Dalai Lama did not apply,” Oriani-Ambrosini said.

”We have evidence that the Dalai Lama’s visa application form was handed to the South African High Commission in India, but that the commission refused to accept it.”

At a meeting held with a Western Cape High Court judge on Tuesday morning, lawyers for the government argued that Dalai Lama had not applied for a visa and the government therefore could not be forced to grant him one.

Home Affairs spokesperson Cleopatra Mosana said a visa application from the Dalai Lama was never received.

”Our official in New Delhi confirms in an affidavit that he never received an application from the Dalai Lama but that there was a consultative process,” Mosana said.

”How can the government be forced to grant a visa if one was never applied for.”

The Dalai Lama was due to attend a 2010 World Cup-related peace conference to have been held in Johannesburg last week, but was told by the South African government not to apply for a visa.

The conference was cancelled after the withdrawal of Nobel peace laureates FW de Klerk and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in solidarity with the Dalai Lama.

”There are times at which words are not sufficient and action is required,” Buthelezi said in a statement on the application against Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

”For this reason today I have filed the application.” — Sapa