Sunday, October 9, 2011

Dalai Lama South African visa debacle

Following Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's mess in 2009 when she was the minister of foreign affairs, one would have expected South Africa to get its house in order when it comes to foreign policy. Alas, they clearly have not.

This time Nkosazana is sitting in Department of Home Affairs which actually issues the visas and a new responsible for the foreign policy mess has finetuned the stupidity of the ANC's diplomatic approach. In the firing line this year is Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, the minister responsible for International Relations and Cooperation. How such incompetents survive in their respective roles is a wonder.

Basically the Dalai Lama had applied for a SA visa in order to attend Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu's 80th birthday celebration. Since he made the application there have been 'paperwork' delays and bungling uselessness to cover up the lack of coherent foreign policy. Following the lenghty delays, the Dalai Lama cancelled his visa application stating that it appears he is incoveniencing the South African authorities - and quite rightly so.

Kgalema Motlanthe on Dalai Lama cartoonOf course, Kgalema Motlanthe stepped forward after the fact to state that of course the Dalai Lama would have been granted the visa had he not cancelled the application. This, of course, is the same Kgalema Motlanthe that stood up and said the Dalai Lama was not granted a visa for South Africa prior to the South African 2010 World Cup time because it would 'distract' everyone from the sporting event.

The challenge here is not whether the Dalai Lama gets a visa or not. It is one of diplomacy and politics. SA needs to take a stand and stick to it rather than dithering around and unnecessarily delaying applications until it no longer has value. If they want to deny the visa because they need to preserve the relationship with China then that is fine - do that and take the position. Spineless is the only word that can be used to describe the current foreign policy approach.

Tutu was certainly furious at the outcome of the process and he outspokenly condemned the ANC leadership and threatened that such behaviour would ultimately lead to their download as such behaviour had led to the downfall of the National Party during the times of apartheid - harsh words, but true ones.

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If you think taking a gamble with South African foreign policy is a futile exercise, perhaps you'd have more joy trying out the latest online casino deposit methods in India and then try your luck on some of the best online casinos. Perhaps a big win can help you make that contribution to the Tutu Peace Foundation you've always wanted to make.

On a different note, seeing the smaller masses rally at Wits in protest of the effective visa refusal for Dalai Lama brought back memories of anti-apartheid protests at the same university in the 1980s - funny how things change on paper but history repeats itself in another form. Perhaps it's time someone asks the Guru cartoon when things will really change in South Africa and indeed the world.


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