- - Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Tutu blasts ANC over Dalai Lama visa

JOHANNESBURG | Retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu, an anti-apartheid hero often described as South Africa’s conscience, slammed the ANC-led government as “disgraceful” and said it is worse than the country’s former oppressive white regime for not issuing a visa to the Dalai Lama.

The African National Congress responded by calling the archbishop’s comparisons to the apartheid regime and to toppled Arab dictatorships “very unfortunate and totally misplaced,” and said the government should be given time to explain its actions.

South African Foreign Ministry officials have denied accusations they are stalling on the visa because of pressure from China, a major trading partner.

The archbishop, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his nonviolent campaign against white racist rule, turns 80 on Friday and had invited his fellow Nobel laureate to South Africa to celebrate his birthday.

The archbishop angrily denounced ANC leaders in a nationally televised news conference hours Tuesday after the Dalai Lama’s office said he was calling off the visit because he didn’t expect to get a visa.

The archbishop, who struggled for years alongside the ANC and other anti-apartheid groups to defeat oppressive white rule, said South Africans expect their government to stand for the human rights as laid out in the constitution.

“This government, our government, is worse than the apartheid government, because at least you were expecting it with the apartheid government,” Archbishop Tutu said, describing anti-regime activists being denied passports at the last minute by the white racist regime.

Barely concealing his fury, Archbishop Tutu repeatedly told ANC leaders to “watch out” and warned them about becoming too complacent after winning every election since 1994 with large majorities.

He indicated they could face the fate of Arab dictatorships.

“Well, [Hosni] Mubarak had a large majority. [Moammar] Gadhafi had a large majority,” the retired archbishop said, referring to toppled Arab leaders in Egypt and Libya. “One day we will start praying for the defeat of the ANC government. You are disgraceful.”


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