Johannesburg: South African President Jacob
Zuma was non-commital on granting a visa to Dalai Lama as
supporters of the exiled Tibetan leader on Monday planned a night
vigil to protest the delay.
"The department of international relations and
co-operation is dealing with it. I don`t know what will be the
final thing. I don`t think that you can get a definite answer
from me," Zuma said at a function organised by The New Age
daily and the South African Broadcasting Corporation here.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has invited his fellow Nobel
Peace Prize laureate to join him for his 80th birthday
celebrations this weekend.
The Dalai Lama was also expected to speak at two major
events in Cape Town and Johannesburg and is due to receive the
Mahatma Gandhi Peace and Reconciliation prize in Durban from
the Indian leader’s granddaughter Ela Gandhi.
In Cape Town, preparations were underway to hold a night
vigil outside Parliament in protest against the delay in
issuing a visa to the Tibetan spiritual leader, allegedly
under pressure from its largest trading partner China.
China has resented an official recognition for the
Dalai Lama or allowing him high-profile visits to propagate
his "splitist" ideology.
The Tibetan leader, who lives in exile in India, was also
denied a visa by South Africa in 2009, but has visited the
country thrice since its first democratic elections in 1994.
The weekly City Press, citing informed sources, said the
Dalai Lama would be told later today that he was unlikely to
be granted a visa, prompting further outrage in the country
over the issue. Ela Gandhi said earlier that since the Dalai Lama was a
spiritual and not a political leader, there should be no
problem in granting visa for his visit to the country.
Chief Executive Officer of the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre
Nomfundo Walaza, earlier said the delay in granting the visa
was "reminiscent of the way authorities dealt with
applications by black South Africans for travel documents
He said a clear message would go out from the civil
society at the vigil that this was unacceptable.
The opposition Democratic Alliance?s Masizole Mnqasela
challenged Zuma?s statement, demanding to know why the
international relations department was dealing with it when
granting of visas was a function of the Home Affairs ministry.