Who governs South Africa?
The furore over the refusal of a visa to the Dalai Lama and the subsequent cancellation of a peace conference being held in association with the World Cup raises some other questions.
President Kgalema Motlanthe’s fatuous statement that the reason was that they did not want the Dalai Lama upstaging the World Cup must really take the prize for stupidity. If anything was calculated to draw unfavourable attention it was the refusal of a visa. If the Dalai Lama had come, he would have spoken some nice peaceful sentiments at the conference, there would have been a few photo ops, and he would have gone home. Refusing a visa produces ten times the publicity, most of it negative. After all, anyone thinking of organisaing an international conference in South Africa will now think twice about it. If speakers and participants can be arbitrarily refused visas at the last minute for such utterly flimsy reasons, it would be safer to organise conferences somewhere else.
But there’s more to it than that, and more than meets the eye.
A little snippet on SAFM radio this morning said that the ANC had nothing to do with the governrment’s decision to refuse the visa.
And then, from the horse’s mouth, Barbara Hogan, the Minister of Health, said that the government’s decision to refuse the visa was a disgrace.
Now isn’t the ANC the ruling party? Isn’t Barbara Hogan, as Minister of Health, a member of the ANC and a member of the government? It’s not as if she’s a backbencher in parliament, she’s a member of the cabinet.
So if the “government” that took the decision to exclude the Dalai Lama is not the ANC government, and doesn’t include members of the cabinet, then just who is the “government”?
Have we been taken over by aliens?
Perhaps aliens from a certain large country in the Far East.
As someone else said on the radio, the traditional informal South African greeting will now become obligatory for all occasions, all protocols observed:
Howzit, my China.