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Was South Africa right to deny Dalai Lama a visa?

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?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I bet the Dalai Lama is over the moon that he can’t go to
SA. That country is being trashed by its selfish, racist,
and unproductive rulers.It is the most dangerous country in the World, and it is getting worse.

Posted by s.ducain | Report as abusive

Come on SA is no more a country rule by the White. So, to the ever-hyporcitical West, SA can do no good no more.

Posted by FromAsia | Report as abusive

So what if the world community had ignored apartheid for all those years? Now what country has the guts to stand up for some principles or is that no longer important to them?

Posted by wildthang | Report as abusive

NELSON MANDELA sacrificed his life to make SA to be owned by the citizens of SA, but his successors have sold out to Chinese cheap goods and bullying.

Posted by karpees | Report as abusive

Maybe, hear me out, they denied his visa because he was alligned with Nazi Fascists? Or because he enriched himself at the cost of thousands of slaves and serfs? Just a notion… don’t drink all the Kool-Aid and McCarthy “Communist shouts.”

Posted by Eliu | Report as abusive

So sad to see the level of ignorance on this blog. I bet none of you are actually in south africa or are of south africa. The visa was not denied, as is mentioned in the article but the public has chosen to infer that it was for sake of its dramatic and political appeal. Secondly, it is easy for you to assume the moral high ground from your 1st world comfort homes with, electricity, running water, sanitation, internet etc, while there’s about 33% of unemployment and 15 million people living on well below $1 a day (more like R1 which is equal to $0.11). The governments duty is to 50 million people, not one. China has invested billions of dollars into an economy in need of such investments. China’s investments are imperative to the economic and social development of the country (50 million not just 1). it would be economic and political suicide to risk that relationship and the future well-being of 50 million people and intended benefits for the Dalai Lama. As a South African myself who lives and sees the devastation of apartheid, I and many like myself do not condone the actions of the government (if those are the actual facts of the case), but we do on the other hand, recognize and appreciate the governments priorities.

Posted by toni19 | Report as abusive

No one should be surprised by the close relationship between South Africa and Commie China. The African National Congress is pan Africa’s leading marxist party, and controls South Africa.

It would be “unnatural” for the South AFrican Government to give a visa to the refugee leader of Tibet, which has been under Chinese Commie occupation since 1959. Desmond Tutu can fume and threaten all he wants, Commie China and the marxist African National Congress have been tight for many years before Aparteid ended.

Ideology is thicker than what’s right, you know.

Posted by RPhillips111 | Report as abusive

RPhillips111 wake up the red threat is dead…communism is so passer….long live Cuba!

Posted by jhardin | Report as abusive

An ordinary Chinese farmers, junior high school, so I can only use translation software?I think you know enough to China, is also in China is not fair.
For 9.11 events and London subway bombings, we have given you the sincere sympathy.
Why did it happen in March 2008 Tibetan terrorist event, your behavior so selfish. The dead civilians it.
The dalai lama and the nature of the al-qaeda is same, hope you don’t contain China, put a terrorist as friends.
We China is not a hegemony countries, our country has their own policy and system.
Although our country has many shortcomings, but we in efforts to improve it.We are free, very open, also hope to world peace. Although we are not very rich, but compare with twenty years ago we had had very big change
We hope very much and any other country in the world people become friends. And I hope you reduce China’s prejudice.
No matter you are politicians or ordinary people, can we make criticism of China, but not out of nothing, don’t just idle talk, don’t get fresh, do not slander slander.
Hope and any of you to become friends. My name is xiao gang, a Chinese farmers?
Welcome to China, look more walk more. Maybe you’ll change perceptions of China

Posted by xiaogang | Report as abusive

Before writing something on Tibet and Tibetans, do have some reading. I am sure u all lives out side china where u must be having free access of information. seems like u are also washed by communist vision of Tibet…. Tibetan are going for self immolation not because they are enjoying Chinese exploitative rule but they are suffering like hell worse than hell.

Posted by Tsering | Report as abusive

What has the Dalai Lama done for the people of South Africa? Where was the Dalai Lama when Mandela was in the prison? Did the Dalai Lama support the anti-apartheid movement? The Dalai Lama never denounced the Apartheid regime or called for the release of Mandela.

He is an opportunistic and fame seeking monk. He has no credentials to be at Mandela’s funeral. It is best the Dalai Lama spends his time with his Hollywood idiots and giving pop Buddhism to rich white people who have sucked the blood of the Black People.

Posted by JamesTBrown | Report as abusive

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