Today's judgement by the Supreme Court of Appeals begs the question as to why, in our democracy, we would need to go all the way to one of the highest courts in the land to force our Government to do what our Government should do, not only of its own accord but as a matter of national priority.
After the death of Mother Theresa of Calcutta, the Dalai Lama is universally regarded as one of the holiest men alive. He has received honorary citizenship from Canada and the United States of America, and the Freedom of the City in many western metropolises. Today, the Dalai Lama is a welcome visitor in all countries of the world, except in China and South Africa.
This is in spite of 86% of the South African population having declared in a newspaper poll that they would welcome the Dalai Lama to South Africa. It is in spite of the message of the Dalai Lama being about peace, forgiveness, non-violence, reconciliation and spiritual upliftment. And it is in spite of the Dalai Lama having been invited to South Africa repeatedly by patriots of the stature of Archbishop Tutu, former State President FW de Klerk and many leaders across the political and religious spectrum.
The Dalai Lama is a Nobel Peace Laureate and holds no political office or function. He is, in effect, as much a private citizen as our former President Nelson Mandela.
All this begs the question as to why our Government, in twice preventing the entry of the Dalai Lama to South Africa, would do something so opposite to the will of the South African people, the values of our Constitution and all that which is good, noble and decent in public affairs. Has our Government really lost the moral compass? Is it a government without principles?
Today's judgement vindicates the fact that our Government has broken the laws of the country and acted unlawfully, but it cannot vindicate the fact that our Government has lost principles, moral direction and moral legitimacy on this issue.
We are inviting the Dalai Lama to come to South Africa as soon as it is convenient to him, and we look forward to having him in our midst again to share with him the bond of peace, love and enlightenment.