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Was South Africa right to deny Dalai Lama a visa?
By Issac Esipisu OCTOBER 4, 2011
By Isaac Esipisu
Given that China is South Africa’s biggest trading partner and given the close relationship between Beijing and the ruling African National Congress, it didn’t come as a huge surprise that South Africa was in no hurry to issue a visa to the Dalai Lama.
Tibet’s spiritual leader will end up missing the 80th birthday party of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a fellow Nobel peace prize winner. He said his application for a visa had not come through on time despite having been made to Pretoria several weeks earlier. (Although South Africa’s government said a visa hadn’t actually been denied, the Dalai Lama’s office said it appeared to find the prospect inconvenient).
Desmond Tutu said the government’s action was a national disgrace and warned the President and ruling party that one day he will start praying for the defeat of the ANC government.
It’s the second time the Dalai Lama has been unable to honour an invitation to South Africa by Tutu after failing to make it to a meeting in 2010.
South Africa will certainly win more plaudits in Beijing, which last week agreed to $2.5 billion in investment projects with during a visit by South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.
But pro-Tibet activists say South Africa is undermining its credentials as a country of freedom and democracy, established after the end of white minority rule a generation ago.
Is Pretoria right in not giving the Tibetan spiritual leader a visa? Is it following the best economic interests of the country of 50 million? Is it bowing to undue interference from Beijing?
21 comments so far | Comments RSS
OCT 4, 2011
3:52 PM EDT
Do you really need to ask this question? SA is a moral no-go zone. Right to the bitter end they supported a brutal dictator in Gaddafi.
Mbeki had an insane policy re AIDS. They have done little for “their people”, but the ruling class has done very well, as is usual in Africa
China is also a dictatorship – maybe the SA ledarship likes dictatorships?
Their credibility is zero. Don’t insult us with this question.
Posted by KlaatuWithGort | Report as abusive
OCT 5, 2011
11:10 PM EDT
It doesn’t suit a democrtically born country like South Africa to deny a visa for Dalai Lama, however it doesn’t suit Dalai Lama to play Free Tibet policy whereever he goes.
Its a complication that might have prompted South Africa to deny visa considering its relation with China, which is more important for it than the Dalai Lama.
Posted by dtulan | Report as abusive
OCT 10, 2011
12:08 AM EDT
South Africa’s ruling party, the ANC, is both in league with and controlled by communists. Why should we be surprised by the government’s kowtowing to the Chinese?
Posted by NJ_citizen | Report as abusive
OCT 10, 2011
5:29 AM EDT
The ruling African National Congress (ANC) is funded by the Chinese Communist Party. Of course they’re going to bow to pressure from the Chinese.
Just take a look at how our manufacturing sector has imploded and you’ll see. The ANC prefer cheap Chinese goods as opposed to anything produced locally. The result? Massive unemployment. Chinese investment has only benefitted those who took the bribes. There has been no meaningful and longlasting investment to benefit the average person. No such requirements are in place.
China is quite happy with this arrangement especially since we produce tons of gold, uranium, platinum, diamonds, iron etc etc.
Look out how SA refuses to nail Zimbabwe or Syria over human rights abuses if you need a clue as to whether our “guavament” does China’s bidding.
Our laws are being changed to suit one-party state rule – RICA; The Protection of Information Bill and others are shining examples of this and will enable to ANC to crack down on dissent and hide their corruption.
This notion of liberations movements being the only political entities qualified to administor a state after “liberation” has gone to their heads and is constantly used to woo voters garnering the ANC over 60% at the polls every time.
If you ever hear complaints about “neo-colonialism” look no further than the ruling party as they have mastered the ways of the old colonial goverments.
Posted by Lennon | Report as abusive
OCT 14, 2011
3:26 AM EDT
SA is rapidly has become the North Korea of the south! It abuses its own people; disregards human rights of its own citizens and now extends this infantile behaviour internationally.
Any resolution of at the UN proposed by human rights pariah’s such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia that allows for the stoning of woman; SA is there backing it.
Libya, the head of the UN Human Rights panel: SA has their vote!
And on and on…
All this betrays its elegant and far-sighted constitution. Internally and externally the ANC has shown itself to be a child in global politics; it backs Zimbabwe’s Mugabe as ‘big brother’ helped in the ‘struggle’. Ditto for Gadhafi. It provides support based on racial loyalties and emotion rather ideals.
The armed struggle itself was a delusion. The apartheid regime could have survived much longer were it no for the collapse of the Soviet Union.
During the ANC’s tenor standards of education have plummeted. Only 12% of 6th grade black kids scored 50% or higher in mathematics. This in the information age where knowledge of basic mathematics is akin to walking an breathing. These kids are handicapped. They will not be able to create value or be employed.
Will there be an uprising of the over 60% unemployed youth in SA? Will they realise that their very government has short changed them, while selling out its principles to Zimbabwe, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia,Syria….
Posted by RS108 | Report as abusive
OCT 14, 2011
12:02 PM EDT
It ill behooves South Africa to deny someone entry just for their political or religious beliefs. That is not democratic or just.
This is about funding and trade with China. For that the governing party is willing to sacrifice it’s honour and international standing.
Posted by Libranian | Report as abusive
OCT 15, 2011
3:38 PM EDT
Gandhi and the Dahlia Lama for peace
and warlords for Africa.
Greed and a corrupt mentality can destroy all good intentions which Mandela had in mind for his all people.
The real freedom fighters are no more for not one word about enslaved Tibet gets mentioned by two faced demagogue.
Raw materials so vital today has incredible leverage and these business deals clearly reflex dumbness par excellence.
King cobra Sata from Zambia had enough from Chinese selfish greed and poor Zuma don’t get it. Not yet.
South African government should apologize for politicizing and derailing a normal birthday invitation.
Posted by Settler | Report as abusive
OCT 16, 2011
8:22 AM EDT
When there is a democracy in the west I’ll take democracy seriously.
The US – a feudal republic.
The UK – a monarchy with democratic pretensions.
France – a Republic, unashamedly.
etc., etc.
Would I wish better for Chinese citizens? Of course – but they have come a long way in a very short time.
Then there’s Tibet, a Chinese possession for hundreds of years, invaded by the British who then signed a treaty with the Chinese and left.
And the Dalai Lama – a religious leader, not of Buddhists, but Tibetan Buddhists. A man who has lauded the leaders of extreme right wing, racist organisations and the cult leader responsible for the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway. If the young male Tibetans knew what life had been like under this man’s rule they would not be agitating for his return.
Posted by glenans | Report as abusive
OCT 19, 2011
12:50 PM EDT
South Africa is a sovereign country and has the right to choose who it wants to be friends with. Who anointed Dalai Lama a saint and who has decided that befriending him is the standard for moral uprightness? Every major power on earth today protects its own interests whichever way it deems fit and I think South Africa should be allowed to do the same.
Posted by Ken1006 | Report as abusive
OCT 24, 2011
3:43 AM EDT
Mr Tutu should perhaps do a little less name dropping and being worried which big name will be at his next party and start worrying about the spiritual wellness of South Africa.
I would love him to Just mention for once that Jesus Christ is the way the truth and the light and no one comes to the Father but through Him.
The only reason I can see that the Dalai lama needs to visit Tutu is so that Tutu can try and convert him to Christianity, not to tell him how holy and great he is.
Tell the Dalai Lama to stay at home. Tutu – stop sitting at the best seats in the house and get out there on the street and start preaching the Gospel. Amen
Posted by Andy1000 | Report as abusive
OCT 24, 2011
10:45 AM EDT
Since when is a rape victim in parnership with her rapist? What exactly are we getting from this partnership with China? Apart from thousands of people who are not contributing to the economy, cheap plastics, clothing and bicycles and a place to dump their motor production!! We have to buy back steel from our ore at a premium and any other raw materials they care to point the finger at! I hate to say t but the country did ok under the Nats and they did nit need China. I wonder how long it took “Shoot the boer” Bono to get a visa? Doesn’t the Dalai Lama trael on an Indian passort, our other huge trading partner?
Posted by dorsalf | Report as abusive
OCT 26, 2011
5:21 AM EDT
Pretoria is absolutely wrong in not granting a visa to the Dalai Lama. Of all nations, South Africa should have an empathy with Tibet and what the Tibetans have been – and still are – subjected to by the Chinese. It is selling its soul to the Chinese, just as are many other African countries. One day, they will all live to regret this as slowly but surely the Chinese move in and take over.
Posted by KerichoKid | Report as abusive
OCT 26, 2011
1:27 PM EDT
A lot has been said by the western media about south africa condoning the rule or otherwise of gadafi, now we hear this? gadafi may have been a terrorist promoter, but only entirely in the eyes of the west, led by the likes of thatcher, reagan. did these very same leaders not stand steadfast in their desire to maintain aprtaheid rule in much of southern africa? i remember very well ronald regan becoming the most hated american leader in southern africa in the 70s as he staunchly took the side of southern african blacks’ then unrepentent oppressors, just like the likes of tony blair today stand shoulder to sholder with israel in denying palestinians nationhood, where is the western media in this, obviously with tony, the US and their sympathysers. gadafi was only terrorist in the eyes of westerners, but hey, he helped those very same southern african blacks by arming and training the ANC, Zipra, swapo and many others, so in our eyes, he was a freedom fighter and dear brother. uk media pouts on about the rights of the dalai lama whose country is occupied by china, but forget they are occupying more lands in every part of the world most of which their media will never openly discuss, diego garcia any one, when will the diego garcians be allowed to tak back their country? what of the malvinas irelands? republic of ireland? oh please do leanr to shut up if yu leave in a glass house.
Posted by shumbat | Report as abusive
OCT 28, 2011
5:04 AM EDT
I have notices that the editor of this blog only allows comments that are dull and for the Dalai Lama – I would rather watch paint dry before I read comments from a reuters blog – everyone one of these comments are about as thought provoking as a deciding on one or two ply.
Posted by Andy1000 | Report as abusive
OCT 31, 2011
11:33 AM EDT
No. The South African Govt was kowtowing to Beijing’s demands because of trade. South African citizens wanted the Dalai Lama to visit in honor of Bishop Tutu’s 80th birthday. But Chinese pressure forced the South African Govt to bow down low & give up a little of its sovereignty. China hates it when other countries “interfere” in China’s so-called internal affairs but China constantly interference in other country’s internal affairs by telling foreign countries who they can or can’t invite. Has South Africa become a vassal state of the Chinese Empire? It’s time to end Chinese colonialism in both Africa and Tibet.
Posted by Gesar | Report as abusive
NOV 15, 2011
2:46 PM EST
Ironic that for so many years, South Africa and it’s citizens have fought against discrimination,inequality and nepotism and now given the freedom and Democracy that allows them to make moral decisions derived from their own history and cognisance, they decide to discriminate against a peace loving man.
Posted by Jackster01 | Report as abusive
NOV 24, 2011
11:31 AM EST
South Africa has now officially lost any credibility in my eyes. When you needed the world help to throw off apartheid, we were there. Tibet needs you now. What do you do? Run for the money just like England to you. Cowards. Moral parasites!
Posted by Daniel-in-Korea | Report as abusive
NOV 28, 2011
11:30 AM EST
I think people should never be deceived by the so called human right defenders. Everybody today is defending his own interests. Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader seeking the independence of Tibet from China. He is supported by the western nations because they want a divided and weakened china. If SA gets its interests well with China than with Dalai Lama why do you blame the ANC government? That is every body’s game today. There is nothing like Human right it is only INTERESTS RIGHTS that attract the world powers; any thing else is just lies and hypocrisy…
Posted by 20septembre | Report as abusive
JAN 3, 2012
6:39 AM EST
A newer form of apartheid – political apartheid towards peace loving tibetan head of state in the name of financial interests. Shameful.
Posted by danpict | Report as abusive
JAN 7, 2012
6:09 PM EST
This is the same China and South Africa that are quick to criticize Israel as Arpathied. Now they are refusing the Da La mai, visa into South Africa. You know the funny thing about a country’s foreign policy? It is all about hypocrisy. Today Russia says free Palestine, tomorrow they lay a stranglehold on Chechnya. Today, Britain says, ‘Free Syria’. Tomorrow they turn a blind eye on Bahrain. It is all politics, no sincerity, just hypocrisy.
Posted by jaoni | Report as abusive
JAN 27, 2012
7:32 AM EST
South Africa is still rather touchy about slavery, which may explain their refusal to grant the visa.
The Dalai Lama was the world’s largest slave owner when he fled Tibet, taking with him the country’s Treasury.
Posted by godfree | Report as abusive
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