The danger of the Dalai Lama, or why South Africa couldn't let him in…

These are from the weekend paper.  Actual quotes from South Africa’s minister of foreign affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (Jacob Zuma’s ex-wife, and the ex-ex-minister of health who introduced the idea that AIDS is simply a disease of poverty, easily cured with garlic and African potatoes)…

“A judge is not supposed to do that. It’s not for judges to decide on foreign policy. They don’t run government and they don’t run foreign policy. There is separation of powers. They run the judiciary. I don’t comment on the judiciary.” (This after a judge in SA’s constitutional court sided with the current minister of health that it was unadvised to prevent the Dalai Lama from visiting).

“Tutu does not run government. Remember, he said he was not going to vote. If it were up to him, there would be no elections next month.” (In response to Archbishop Desmond Tutu declaring that he would now boycott the conference.)

Which got even the usually intelligent finance minister, Trevor Manuel, involved: “Is he just the spiritual leader of the Buddhists in Tibet or is he the one who on March 28 1959 established the government of Tibet in exile in the same way Taiwan was established to counter the legality of a single China?”

“The reason why the Dalai Lama wants to be here is to make a big global political statement about the secession of Tibet from China. He wants to do it on the free soil of SA,” Manuel said.

“I am sure he is welcome to come at any other time but we should not allow him to raise the global issue that will impact on the standing of SA. Quite frankly this has nothing to do with the PSL (Professional Soccer League). It is a matter of the relationship between states and that is what we have to stand up for.”

But, back to the continuing lunacy of the foreign minister:

“Foreign policy has to be discussed and has to be understood. But at the end of the day we can’t all conduct foreign policy. I’m not casting any aspersions on anyone. But the truth of the matter that foreign policy has to be conducted at one level and has to be co-ordinated.”

“China cannot bully us. But of course, they also have their own interests. As a country, they will further their own interests. But we are not hiding the fact that we want to have good relations with China – like everybody else in the world.”

“Human rights are also about jobs, education and shelter. You can’t divorce economic interest from human rights. Our [Bill] of rights is much more broader than that of many countries.”

“But when we took a decision on his visit we looked at what is the national interest -which includes making sure that the country runs, human rights, in the broad sense, are protected, people have food, shelter and jobs. What brings stability is the combination of each of all these rights.”

Which earned the following response from Professor Geir Lundestad, director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute:

“We are disappointed that the South African government did not stand up to Chinese pressure, particularly bearing in mind the strong support the ANC got from abroad and the Norwegian Nobel Committee in its historic struggle against apartheid.”

And my take: claiming that denying the Dalai Lama entrance to a conference to discuss peace and global harmony is actually in the DEFENCE of human rights is the sort of double-speak gobbledygook you’d expect from a government with absolutely no respect for human rights. Claiming that Desmond Tutu, one of the greatest humanists alive, is in favour of the destruction of democracy because he WON’T vote in a political system that has become nothing but a collection of favouritism and corruption is just spurious bullshit.

About the only ANC/government representative who has said anything approaching sense is the current Health Minister, Barbara Hogan (who has now earned the ire of the unsackable Dlamini-Zuma): “Just the very fact that this government has refused entry to the Dalai Lama is an example of a government who is dismissive of human rights. I believe [the government] needs to apologise to the citizens of this country, because it is in your name that this great man who has struggled for the rights of his country… has been denied access.”

The government decision was, said the Dalai Lama, “another manifestation of one of the fundamental challenges to world peace as a whole: namely, a lack of understanding and mutual respect”.

“I believe religious, social and political leaders throughout the world have a responsibility to ensure principles triumph over the obsession with money and power.”

Except for the missing word “unearned” in front of “money and power”, I have no problem with those sentiments.

4 replies »

  1. I neither love nor hate the DL. he seems like a nice enough guy, with good intentions, and he should certainly be free to go where he likes and say what he wants, as should we all. He has been around a long time and represents an oppressed people. I can’t personally take him too seriously, because he is a religious “leader” and I view them all as con men and swindlers. That being said, it is the basest form of cowardice to fold to chinese diplomatic pressure, and justify it with absolute nonsense.
    I guess nobody can stand up to the chinese fascist government nowadays. They are bankrolling everybody, after all. Are they not going broke yet?

  2. I am sorry but I have to disagree with nearly everything you just said. We are presently negotiating a trade deal with China, tens of thousands of jobs are on the line and therefore even more productive families and children in school. The South African government works for the people of South Africa and the country’s absolute poverty levels, inequality and all the social deprivation which comes from these social ills is rising. What are ethics/morals worth? Well a decent life for 20,000 SA families is definitely worth a PR exercise for a lost cause. It is easy for Norway to lay blame – 6 million people don’t have AIDS, the population is housed and fed – but until they live in the under developed world they better just shut up.