Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu chose not to beg the South African government to grant a visa to His Holiness the Dalai Lama to enable his friend and fellow Nobel Peace Laureate to attend the Nobel Summit scheduled to be held in Cape Town this month, Reverend Mpho Tutu, Executive Director of the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, said.
“It was made clear three years ago, when His Holiness was last prevented from visiting South Africa, that my father held no moral sway over the government. This time, he thought the visa application may have more success if it was championed by others,” Rev Tutu said.
“The past few weeks have been very difficult. Many of the laureates contacted my father to solicit his counsel regarding a boycott of the event. He counselled each to follow the dictates of conscience,” Rev Tutu said.
The Executive Mayor of Cape Town Patricia De Lille was scheduled to address a media conference tomorrow on the status of the Nobel Summit. In the meantime, the Archbishop felt he could hold his silence no longer, Rev Tutu said.
Archbishop Tutu said: “I cannot believe that the South African Government could shoot itself in the same foot thrice over. I believed that our Government had a proper pride. When the Americans told Madiba he couldn’t continue his friendship with Presidents Gaddafi and Castro, he told them to go and jump in the lake; that they could not choose his friends for him.
“When His Holiness was prevented by our Government from attending my 80th birthday I condemned that kowtowing to the Chinese roundly and reminded the ANC government that it did not represent me. I warned them then that just as we had prayed for the downfall of the apartheid government so we would pray for the demise of a government that could be so spineless. The Nobel Summit in Cape Town, the first to be held on our continent, was meant to celebrate Madiba. His own comrades have spat in his face, refusing to see him honoured by the holders of the blue ribbon of awards and honours.
“I am ashamed to call this lickspittle bunch my Government,” Archbishop Tutu said.
This statement was issued for the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation by Oryx Media.