DA: Statement by Stevens Mokgalapa, Democratic Alliance shadow minister of international relations and cooperation, on the Dalai Lama's visa application (04/10/2011)

4th October 2011

According to the Dalai Lama’s representatives in New Delhi, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) still hasn’t informed the Dalai Lama of the status of his visa application, despite saying they were doing so yesterday.

As a result, the Dalai Lama has reluctantly had to cancel his trip to Archbishop Tutu’s 80th birthday. In this case, a visa delayed is a visa denied.

I will today be submitting parliamentary questions to the Minister of International Relations, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane demanding a full explanation of why the department took so long to make a decision.

The inescapable conclusion is that the South African government has predictably strung the Dalai Lama along to make it impossible for him to plan his trip. That way it could avoid making a decision that would either upset the Chinese or upset millions of peace-loving South Africans and citizens around the globe.

But by delaying the decision on the Dalai Lama’s visa, the government made its choice. It allowed China to dictate its foreign policy. This is a sad day for those of us who believe in a sovereign foreign policy based on ubuntu and human rights. It is not acceptable that the government has allowed a breach of this sovereignty by bowing to pressure from a foreign power.