The government has been widely condemned for refusing to allow Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to attend a 2010 World Cup peace conference in Johannesburg on Friday.
Nobel peace laureate and former president FW de Klerk and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu have both said they would boycott the event in solidarity with the Dalai Lama.
The president’s excuse that the reason for South Africa refusing the visa was that it did not want ‘to remove the world’s attention’ from the 2010 Soccer World Cup preparations is not merely lame, but a gross abuse of executive power, and is probably unconstitutional.
We are rapidly regressing to the bad old days of the Vorster regime, when, for example, Basil d’Oliveira was refused a visa to play cricket in South Africa with the MCC cricket team in 1968. That led to South Africa being isolated from world cricket for 25 years. Perhaps we need another 25 years of isolation from world soccer, since it seems we still haven’t learnt the lesson.
Our constitution is supposed to guarantee freedom of religion, and I hope someone challenges this in the constitutional court.
It is sad to see that the ANC, which fought for 70 years to liberate us from oppression, has now fully internalised the image of the oppressor, as Paolo Freire puts it, and is coming more and more closely to resemble the pigs in George Orwell’s Animal farm. Albert Luthuli, Walter Sisulu and Oliver Tambo must be turning in their graves.