Dalai Lama Court Case
Remarks to the Demonstrators
by Mr Ben Skosana MP

On Behalf of

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President of the Inkatha Freedom Party


 Cape High Court: 6 December 2011 

 

Thank you all for being here today. By being here each of you is supporting the statement that democracy belongs to everyone and we all share an equal measure of responsibility to protect it.

 

We live in a democracy shaped by the Constitution. Under the Constitution, the courts are the final venue where democracy is protected, where wrongs are righted and where those who have been deprived of a voice can finally be heard and their grievances redressed. 

 

We all know that by barring the entry of the Dalai Lama, our Government did wrong. We have come here, to this court, to put it right. Your presence here today signifies that the Government wronged much more than the Dalai Lama himself. The Government wronged all South African citizens who cared about associating with the Dalai Lama and receiving his religious and inspirational message. In so doing, our Government violated our constitutional freedoms of associations, religion and political activity. 

 

There is something else that on this occasion we must redress through our collective actions. In fact, our Government did more than breach our constitutional rights. It acted in a manner which belittled the dignity of our Republic and its institutions.

 

When two years ago our Government barred the Dalai Lama, it took the position that it never refused the Dalai Lama a visa because, it said, the Dalai Lama had not applied. It turned out that the Dalai Lama had tried to apply four times and his attempts to submit his applications were wrongfully rejected. We are here to express our contempt towards a Government which resorts to such untruths to justify its misdeeds.

 

This was two years ago. On the most recent occasion our Government conducted itself with similar lack of decency. The Minister of Home Affairs has stated under oath that she did not refuse a visa to the Dalai Lama but that rather just had no time to process his visa application. Yet the Dalai Lama went to apply for a visa four months in advance and was told that it was too early and to come back after two months. His application remained with the Minister of Home Affairs for two months and was withdrawn only after it became too late for the Dalai Lama to travel to South Africa in time to attend Archbishop Tutu 's 80th birthday.

 

This ducking and diving, these juvenile excuses, these untruths are unbecoming of a democratic government of a respectable country.

 

All facts about the Dalai Lama are universally known and are well known to our Government because the Dalai Lama has applied for visas on several occasions.  He received several entry visas until three years ago.

Therefore, the decision of whether to issue him a visa should not take more than a day. By delaying as much as she did, the Minister of Home Affairs denied the Dalai Lama a visa without the courage or the decency of openly admitting having done so.

 

We are here today to state this misconduct is not only unlawful and required to be corrected by the courts, but are also contrary to how we expect our government to behave. If our government can deal in this manner in respect of a Nobel Peace Laureate who is universally recognized as a champion of goodwill, nonviolence and reconciliation, what constraints will our Government respect when dealing with us all?  We are here to demand respect for the Dalai Lama but also to protect ourselves and our freedom from this and any future Government.

 

Thank you for making this important statement. Your statement today will be heard and not forgotten.