Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama

Babalo Ndenze

THE DA has challenged President Jacob Zuma and the government to go on record and “categorically” confirm that South Africa would have issued a visa to the Dalai Lama had he not cancelled his application.

But the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) says it won’t engage in “games” and answer to “hypothetical questions”.

DA federal chairman Wilmot James said what made the situation more worrisome was that even the apartheid regime, “known for its petty spitefulness”, had granted then-ANC president Albert Luthuli permission to attend the 1961 ceremony in Oslo at which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

“The then-Nobel committee chairman, Gunnar Jahn, praised Luthuli, a man of great stature worthy of praise, for ‘his commitment to the peaceful struggle for human rights in South Africa’.

“In what will be an everlasting shame, the government of President Jacob Zuma’s ANC is unwilling to do the necessary to welcome a man of the stature of the Dalai Lama – known by the same mantra as Luthuli, for ‘his commitment to the peaceful struggle for human rights’ in Tibet and elsewhere – to our country as Nelson Mandela welcomed him years ago,” said James.

“Who really runs our country? Is it President Jacob Zuma?”

James said Presidency spokesman Mac Maharaj’s “pathetic excuses” could not hide Zuma’s “lack of independent mind and spirit to hold Communist China at bay”.

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille has said that the primary reason for the Nobel laureates’ 14th World Peace Summit being moved from Cape Town was that the government had refused to grant the Dalai Lama a visa to attend.

Dirco spokesman Clayson Monyela said he didn’t think it was “proper” to answer “hypothetical” questions on whether South Africa would have approved the visa application.

“The application was cancelled as it was undergoing due process. People who want to know what the outcome would have been know there must be an application and you wait for the outcome.”