Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said the government was planning to grant the Dalai Lama a visa, according to a newspaper report on Wednesday.
The Star newspaper said it had asked Motlanthe if the government would have granted the Tibetan spiritual leader a visa if he had not cancelled his trip to attend Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu's 80th birthday celebrations at the weekend.
Motlanthe replied, according to The Star: “Of course, he has been here before. I don't see why it should be an issue at all.”
Motlanthe, who recently concluded a trip to China, denied that there had been pressure from Beijing not to grant the Dalai Lama the visa.
It is widely believed the government had buckled under pressure from China - its biggest trading partner - which deems the Tibetan spiritual leader a “splittist” and discourages foreign leaders from hosting him.
prominent SA celebrities, media personalities and politicians took to social networking site Twitter on Wednesday to express their opinions and disappointment with the cancelled Dalai Lama visit.
Journalist Max du Preez said: “Ban the Dalai Lama, ban reporter Deon de Lange from parliament. Ban, ban, ban. Who do you think you are - Ban ki Moon (United Nations secretary general)?”
He also said earlier: “Just had breakfast with senior Western diplomat. Says no doubt SA could have allowed Dalai Lama with only few grumbles from Beijing.”
Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille posted on Twitter in support of Tutu.
“Pray by all means - and vote!” she tweeted.
City Press editor Ferial Haffajee posted: “’We will pray for your downfall.’ Turning-point has just arrived. Ndebele, Tutu, Tutu, Ntsebeza… ”
Earlier in the month she posted: “How can we not give a visa to the Dalai Lama? Mandela's South Africa? Tutu's South Africa? Maybe we aren't that anymore… make a noise!”
Business Day editor Peter Bruce tweeted: “Govt complains Dalai Lama 'only' applied for visa on September 20. What takes so long? I applied for a Cuban visa last month. It took a day.”
Nelson Mandela's personal assistant Zelda la Grange tweeted in response to 5FM DJ and SA Idol's judge Gareth Cliff: “@GarethCliff thank goodness for #idolsSA finals so we can be distracted from this Dalai Lama embarrassment!”
She posted earlier: “Sad that Dalai Lama visa saga will take away from the conviction with which Arch deserves to be celebrated at 80. He'll only turn 80 once.”
Satirical politician and media personality Evita Bezuidenhout added humour to the situation.
“Never had a problem with Red China. Looks lovely on a white tablecloth. But if they insult Tutu and the Lama, I will have to change my mind,” Tannie Evita posted.
Radio 702 presenter Kieno Kammies tweeted: “The pimple on the bum of Africa, Mugabe is allowed in, but not the dalai lama eish!!!!! The revolution has fallen flat on its face.” - Sapa
Karen is Just a closet Bigot, wrote
Govt should approve his visa and re-invite him. And send Karen to Tibet. One way ticket.
Karen is an Idiot, wrote
Panda to the Chinese! HA! Good one.
Karen is an Idiot, wrote
And @ML. Don't even know how to respond to that. Just emigrate. Thats all, just emigrate.
Karen is an Idiot, wrote
Thats all I have to say. No comments on DL, DT or anything. Just that. has to be said.
Why should we be decided by foreign countries? SA is now in the strings of China and US.
Any old mouse, wrote
The ANC should be ashemed of themselves, 1) for trying to, at this late stage, say that they would have granted him a visa (what took you two months?), but 2) and most importantly, for the discracefull way in which they are destroying the legacy that the Great Man Madiba left. They are indirectly dragging the old man through the mud and laughing in his face. SHAME ON THE LOT OF YOU!!
You are lying, Mr Motlanthe! You and your government stink, you suckers!
And the people voted and continue to vote for these clowns - eish!! They are truely mad!!
@Karen: you are exactly right, they are just people after all, people with rights like you and me. Rights people fought for.
@ Lynne . The guy at the Department of Foreign Affairs is Ebrahim Ebrahim. A very nice guy but I don t know why he took this decision. Maybe under the advices of our local Lenin, mr Motlanthe.....
Pathetic. Nobody knew, in this government, who was resposnable for not delivering a visa to the Dalai lama and now that 3 days before traveling to the land of rainbow nations, boerewors, pap, and sorgho beer and curyy, every dick and harry from this government know that OF COURSE we would have given him a visa. Why did you lose 3 applications and wait for so long ? because of Chinaaaaaa my china. Lets see what kind of salaries these Chinese are going to pay to the majority of people in this country. During the apartheid era the Chinese and Japanese were made white of honor. Maybe now this ANC government are going to make the Chinese , BEE of honor. Shame on you. Desmond Tutu is right. Viva the Dalai Lama , viva a free TIBET
Why does the Dalai and Tuts not get onto the new Taxi Airline and fly far, far away. This has been blown out of proportion as usual. Please, who are they in any case, just people like everyone else!!!!!
No matter how hard the government may try to wipe this egg, it's stuck bang on their faces it's hard to recognise who they really are. Even the best white wash won't do it - not this time!
The man of cloth thinks he has direct access to the Almight. The Arch is more concerned about being Internationalists pleasing pigs & k8ff7rs wanna be pigs than serving & pleasing the Almight. Is God a bully who is called by the likes of Tutu to fight the politicallybirthday for self proclaimed Jesus dalai lama, the gods worshipper. What happened to Rev Dandala who thought he was closer to God.
@ Lolly. And who exactly is the Deparment of Foreign Affairs? Surely not the DA, no hey they are the ANC stupid. One and the same. One cannot exist without the other. Does this need a rocket scientist?
Anon E Mouse, wrote
@No Longer Surprised - our government is teally top class at copying international failures. @Terry - he, like Madiba, is a champion of human rights.
Bafana , wrote
Its interesting how everyone in government is falling over each other to appear is if they have been hard done by the Bishop Tutu, the media and commentators. What is very clear is that the deputy president is lying through his teeth. If the government intended to give Delai Lama his visa why wait until the very last minute, secondly say for argument sake they intended to do just that when was he supposed to travel to to this country? I thinks the ANC government is a shame to every freedom loving South African. They are willing to to sell our Sovereignty for a few Chinese Yens. Shame on you Mr deputy President, you disgust me
the Dalai Lama must stop causing problems here otherwise we will charge him for sowing divisions amongst the rainbow nation.
And in other news, the "second coming" has been postponed because South Africa denied Jesus a visa
nice try kgalema