By Tendar Tsering
DHARAMSHALA, September 14: The South Africa Foreigner Minister Nkoana Mashabane told reporters Tuesday that his government was considering a visa request from the Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
“Our mission in New Delhi has received a visa application from His Holiness the Dalai Lama and like all other high profile or ordinary visa applications, this application is under process,” Agency France Presse quoted Nkoana as saying.
“That’s how much I can say for now about the application”, the Foreign Minister added.
Signalling pressure from Beijing, the SA Home Ministry spokesman Ronnie Manoepa had earlier told reporters that his department needed to “take advice from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.”
Talking to Phayul, the Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New Delhi, Tenpa Tsering said that his office is yet to receive an official response from the South African government but added that he was positive about the visit.
“We are very hopeful and very much positive about the visa status” as “they have taken it in for the process,” Tsering said.
Fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu invited the Dalai Lama to attend his 80th birthday celebrations in October.
Last week, Tutu told a local newspaper that his government will be “shooting themselves in the foot” if the visa application was again turned down.
“I mean it’s so sad to think that we have had a kind of experience of repression that we have had in that we should want to kowtow to a hugely repressive regime that can dictate to us about freedom and things of that kind,” Tutu said.
“For oldies like us…it just gives us sadness,” he added.
The South African government denied visa to the Tibetan spiritual leader in 2009 to attend peace conference in Johannesburg, which the Foreign Minister later described as poor communication and said the Dalai Lama was welcome to visit South Africa.
If granted visa, the 76-year old Tibetan leader is scheduled to give talks in Cape Town and Durban and also receive an international honour besides attending the birthday celebration on October 7.