An invitation to visit South Africa will be sent to the Dalai Lama soon, IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said on Thursday.

Speaking via telephone from Ulundi, in KwaZulu-Natal, Buthelezi told reporters in Parliament that he saw Thursday's Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruling as a vindication.

It confirmed the view that the South African government had broken the laws of the country in delaying a decision on a visa application by the Dalai Lama.

“All this begs the question as to why the government, in twice preventing the entry of the Dalai Lama to South Africa, would do something so opposite to the will of the people of this country, the values of our Constitution, and all that which is good, noble, and decent in public affairs,” he said the Inkatha Freedom Party leader.

Buthelezi and Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota brought the appeal after the Western Cape High Court dismissed their application in February challenging the government's delay in granting a visa to the Tibetan spiritual leader.

The court found the case moot, as the Dalai Lama had already cancelled his trip.

On Thursday, the SCA found that evidence indicated the matter was deliberately delayed to avoid a decision.

Buthelezi said the ruling proved that the government had “lost its principles, moral direction and moral legitimacy on this issue”.

“If you recall, I actually invited him last time he was turned down for Archbishop (Emeritus Desmond) Tutu's birthday, and I intend doing so (again),” Buthelezi said when asked whether he would extend another invitation to the Dalai Lama.

Speaking at the same briefing, Lekota said he was “thrilled that, once again, the rule of law had been upheld”.

He said the Constitution provided Tutu, and any other citizen, the right to freedom of association.

“If, therefore, Archbishop Tutu or any other citizen of our country were to invite a friend to visit them, whether the majority party or the communist person does not like that person is irrelevant... the right given to us under our Constitution is to associate with whoever we choose to associate,” said Lekota.

He said the “procrastination” by the then minister of Home Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was a form of refusal to concede to constitutionally enshrined rights.

He said the ANC-run government's decisions on the Dalai Lama was a result of bowing to pressure from China.

“The delinquent that is undermining the Constitution at every turn is the ruling party,” he said.

Democratic Alliance MP Sandy Kalyan said South Africa's name would be vindicated in the international arena following the disgrace that followed the Dalai Lama's application.

“The reality is that they (the ANC) were playing to the master's voice of China... given that much of their funding is coming from China for their internal processes, they were obliged to keep the Dalai Lama out,” said Kalyan.

Buddhist teacher Karen de Vos described the court ruling as “a small leap for Buddhists and a large leap for South Africans”.

De Vos praised MPs for their hard work, and said she had hope for South Africa.

“People are standing up for moral values, not just for economic gain.”

The Dalai Lama eventually cancelled his trip to South Africa to attend Tutu's 80th birthday on October 4, last year.

At the time, Tutu was outraged and accused the current government of being worse than the apartheid-era one. - Sapa