/ 4 September 2014

Dalai Lama cancels trip to SA

The Dalai Lama has twice since 2009 been denied a visa for South Africa.
The Dalai Lama has twice since 2009 been denied a visa for South Africa.

“The [department] has received written confirmation from the office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in India indicating that His Holiness has cancelled his planned visit to South Africa,” spokesperson for the department of international relations and co-operation Clayson Monyela said in a statement. The department now considered the matter closed.

The Tibetan spiritual leader had again been refused entry to the country, this time for the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates. The Dalai Lama’s representative in South Africa, Nangsa Choedon, said department officials phoned her office in the past week to say they would not be granting the visa. They had not yet received written confirmation. “For now the Dalai Lama has decided to cancel his trip to South Africa,” Choedon was quoted as saying.

The summit, an annual gathering, is being held in Cape Town next month. Arrangements were being made by a local organising committee formed by the foundations representing four South African laureates – Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk and Albert Luthuli. The Cape Times reported that other Nobel Peace Laureates told Tutu they would not come if the Dalai Lama was not permitted to enter the country.

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille, who was hosting the event, had instructed city officials to write to the government to establish whether he had been denied a visa. “We have not heard from them yet, but I will not give up hope that our government will not humiliate the Dalai Lama again,” De Lille was quoted as saying. 

At the time of the receipt of the notification, the South African High Commission in New Delhi was still processing the visa application in line with due process relating to visa applications.

Third visit denied
This was the third time in five years the Dalai Lama could not secure a visa to enter South Africa. In March 2009, it was reported that South Africa refused to issue a visa to the Dalai Lama because it did not want to remove the world’s attention from the 2010 Soccer World Cup preparations. 

At the time, former president Kgalema Motlanthe’s spokesperson Thabo Masebe said the whole world was focused on South Africa as hosts of the Cup, and the government wanted the focus to remain on South Africa. 

“A visit now by the Dalai Lama would move the focus from South Africa onto issues in Tibet,” said Masebe. He added that even though China is South Africa’s a major trading partner, it played no role in the government’s decision. 

A statement released by the Nelson Mandela Foundation noted an earlier response from Dirco that the visa application was undergoing due process, and said: “We look forward to being in attendance at the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Cape Town together with His Holiness and other laureates.” – Sapa