Johannesburg: The Dalai Lama will receive the
Mahatma Gandhi peace prize, the legendary Indian leader`s
granddaughter Ela Gandhi announced here today on Gandhi
Jayanti and asked the South African government to grant a visa
to the Tibetan spiritual leader to visit the country.
The Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Peace and
Reconciliation will be conferred on the 76-year-old Dalai Lama
at the annual Satyagraha Awards to be held at the Durban City
Hall next Sunday.
The event is one of several public invitations that the
Dalai Lama has accepted during a proposed South African visit
this week, amid concern that the South African government may
not grant him a visa under Chinese pressure.
The visit was prompted by an invitation from fellow Nobel
Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu for the Dalai
Lama to join him for his 80th birthday celebrations on Friday.
Denying that the visa was being delayed due to a visit to
South Africa`s biggest trading partner China by Deputy
President Kgalema Motlanthe last week, South African
authorities said the visa was still "under consideration" on
Friday, less than a week before the start of his visit. The
Dalai Lama had previously been refused a visa in 2009.
Expressing the hope that the visa would be issued in
time, Ela Gandhi said the award would be given to a
representative of the Dalai Lama in case of his absence.
"Since he is a spiritual head and not a political one,
there should be no problem issuing the Dalai Lama with a
visa," she said.
In Johannesburg, the University of the Witwatersrand in
conjunction with the Gandhi Centenary Committee, One Young
World and Afrika Tikkun has invited the Dalai Lama to talk on
`Non-Violence in the New Century: The Way Forward.`
"We would encourage the South African government not to
silence the voice of the Dalai Lama. We should welcome the
opportunity to host him in South Africa and we should allow
all voices to be heard in our democracy - a right for which we
have fought with our lives," Loyiso Nongxa, Vice-Chancellor
and Principal of Wits University, said in a statement.
The Gandhi Committee Chairperson, his great-granddaughter
Kirti Menon, said that ambassadors of non-violence were
critical, especially in the current climate of intolerance as
well as social injustices in the world.
"We welcome the opportunity to host the Dalai Lama who
stands for Gandhian values," Menon said.
Nomfundo Walaza, chief executive of the Desmond Tutu
Peace Centre, earlier said the delay in the visa application
was "reminiscent of the way authorities dealt with
applications by black South Africans for travel documents