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Sun Mar 01 21:20:54 SAST 2015

Dalai ruling 'good for SA's karma'

QUINTON MTYALA | 30 November, 2012 00:38
The Supreme Court of Appeal has ruled that the Dalai Lama should have been given a visa Picture: REUTERS

The IFP and COPE say their decision to challenge the government's refusal to grant a visa to Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has been vindicated by the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Yesterday, the court found that former Home Affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma erred in "deliberately delaying" a decision on granting a visa to Tibet's spiritual leader in October last year.

The Dalai Lama had been invited to South Africa to attend the 80th birthday celebrations of his friend, retired archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The department's decision was immediately challenged by the IFP and COPE in the Cape Town High Court, which ruled the matter moot because the Dalai Lama had withdrawn his visa application.

COPE leader Mosiuoa Lekota told journalists yesterday that the two parties were "thrilled" that the rule of law, and the right to freedom of association, had been upheld by the appeal court.

He said the decision would "cut down" the ANC, which, he said, disregarded the constitution whenever it did not agree with its provisions.

"This will go a long way towards saving the courts the embarrassment of constantly calling [the ANC] to order, and save opposition parties and citizens [from going to court] before they can enjoy the rights given to them in the constitution," said Lekota.

IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said it was shameful that the ANC had acted unconstitutionally to placate the Chinese government, with which it had close ties.

China, which has ruled Tibet since the 1950s, has been pressurising countries not to recognise the Dalai Lama.

Gary Eisenberg, attorney for the two political parties, said that though the Supreme Court of Appeal's judgment did not detail the legal complexities, it found that even though the Dalai Lama had withdrawn his application it remained "live" because of the belief that the government had acted illegally.

The Department of Home Affairs said Dlamini-Zuma's successor, Naledi Pandor, had taken note of the judgment and would study it.

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