By Tashi Wangyal (Montreal, Canada)
If you look at majority of the Governmental Tibet supporters, they are either in the opposition party or have some other vested interest. And the tradition to use the limelight of Dalia Lama or Tibet as the subject to demonstrate their ethical values have become a common phenomenon among many world leaders. In reality, when they actually come into power, none of them seem to honor their promises except issuing few statements, probably an attempt to please their personal conscience. After witnessing the ongoing behavior of a long repressed nation like South Africa, it is appalling to even think about how this historic nation can commit such injustice. The decision to disallow the Dalai Lama to visit South Africa for the second time in three years is indeed a huge political misstep and a slap on the basic democratic values for which all the South Africans had stood for. South Africa had suffered under the British colonial rule for the longest time that eventually culminated into Apartheid, a system of legal racial segregation and with white minority rule through 1948 to 1994.
In fact, the current president Jacob Zuma himself had spent ten years on Robben Island with former president Nelson Mandela and other notable ANC (African National Congress) activists. He does not need to be reminded how it feels to be penned, thrown into exile, humiliated and treated as secondary citizens. Less than twenty years ago, South Africans were embattling oppression, inequality and political freedom, yet today Johannesburg appeared to have forgotten all those experiences too quickly. It is mind boggling to find South Africa stooping so low and surrendering all her fundamental values and ethical principles for some economic interest. A nation that has successfully overcame inequality, repression and racial segregation just in our recent memories have failed to uphold the pride and dignity of all the heroic sacrifices of Nelson Mandela and other adamant activists including president Zuma himself.
I am sure that the department of home affairs will use the same argument as they did in 2009 by denying VISA on the ground of Dalai Lama's political implications. But today the same excuse is not valid anymore for the Dalai Lama has recently devolved all his political power to the democratically elect leader Dr. Lobsang Sangay.
Also with the growing trade ties between Beijing and Johannesburg in recent years, with China last year overtaking the US as South Africa's largest export destination, it won't surprise me if President Zuma is slowly misleading South Africa into a communist state. Indeed, president Zuma had once joined the South African Communist Party (SACP) in 1963 and briefly served on the party's Politburo until he left the party in 1990. And Mr. Zuma’s personal life is also not without controversy. He had been already charged with rape, corruption and racketeering that were later dropped due to political interference.
Therefore, I urge all the South Africans and the international community to be mindful of President Zuma's future political decisions and his diplomatic ties with China lest he destabilize the entire African sub-continent.