Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi and Cope Chairman Mosioua Lekota made an application to the Cape High Court to declare the Government’s refusal to issue an entry visa to the Dalai Lama wrongful, and that Government should issue a visa to the Dalai Lama to enable him to accept Prince Buthelezi’s invitation to a prayer meeting to be held on International Human Rights day.
Today the Cape High Court handed down a judgment which dismissed this application on the ground of it being moot. The judgment did not go into the merits of deciding whether the conduct of government was in fact wrongful, but held that the court could not decide this question. Simply put the court held that it could do nothing to fix what was done in the past if that was wrongful and that nothing had yet been done in respect of the future which could enable the court to fix it before it happened.
Therefore, the national tragedy and international disgrace of the South African Government having twice denied a visa to the Dalai Lama and prevaricated in all ways possible about it has not yet found justice and has fallen in a piece of legal no-man’s land.
On no other occasion as in this one, has there been a complete divorce between what the whole of the country wanted and what the government did. The mechanism of democracy could not fix this gap and impose on government the will of the people which government betrayed. The legal routes have thus far proven unsuccessful. This is a grave indictment on our entire system of government which has not yet been able to find mechanism to correct what everyone perceives as an injustice, ranging from the churches to the trade unions to the common people who, in their overwhelming majority, declared themselves in favor of the Dalai Lama coming to South Africa.
The Dalai Lama has the international stature and respect of Nelson Mandela and like him is just a private citizen. What would we do and how would we feel if a foreign state were to deny twice an entry visa to Nelson Mandela? What is the civilized and free and democratic world feel today looking at the South African system’s incapability of correcting such a grave injustice and international outrage.
Undoubtedly, consideration will be given to the possibility of appealing this judgment. However, irrespective of the outcome, we all know in our hearts that we have done what had to be done and if it were not for those who did it, who else would have done it?
Dr Mario Oriani-Ambrosini, MP
Editor’s Notes: The original release referred to “President Mosioua Lekota” – we think that JZ might have been slightly miffed!