By Tenzin Dharpo
President Sangay with Prince Buthelezi, President of Inkatha Freedom Party and members of Parliament during the luncheon hosted in his honour . Photo-OOT SA
DHARAMSHALA, Feb. 8: The President of the exile Tibetan government known officially as the Central Tibetan Administration, Dr. Lobsang Sangay, is on the last leg of his official visit to South Africa. The Tibetan leader who was in SA since February 5 met with members of Parliament of various political affiliations, and interacted with academia, media and friends of Tibet.
He said, “I am delighted and deeply honoured to be in South Africa again, the country that inspires six million Tibetans to continue their non-violent fight for human rights, democracy and freedom.”
On Wednesday, the Tibetan President met with the parliamentary members of the Inkatha Freedom Party and its President Prince Buthelezi who hosted a luncheon reception in honour of Dr. Sangay. Inkantha Freedom party is an important opposition party in the South African political landscape and is currently one of the largest party in the National Assembly of South Africa.
This is the Tibetan President’s second visit to the most progressive African nation. He also met with former President of South Africa Mr F W de Klerk in his Foundation’s office on February 6.
The head of the Tibetan polity also said that on a personal level, the nation’s stalwarts inspired him. “I remember listening to Nelson Mandela and President Ramaphosa many years back when I was at Harvard, talking about the extraordinary and progressive South African Constitution. Their fight, their hope, their dignity inspires me.”
“Mr Mandela was locked up for 27 years, and no one ever thought that his desperate situation on Robben Island and other South Africans will ever change. Mr Mandela and the remarkable and enduring spirit of South Africans who longed for human rights and freedom, your story, your history keep us going,” he further said.
The relations between exile Tibetan government and Pretoria has been icy with the latter accused of putting economic interests at the fore with China. Since 2009, the exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama who is reviled by China as a “splittist” was denied visa to South Africa on three occasions. Many say China’s lucrative investments in the country is the cause of such cold shoulders from the African nation.
During the Tibetan President’s last visit to the country in 2018, he was not allowed to attend the South African President Jacob Zuma’s state-of-the-nation address at the inaugural session of the South African Parliament at the last minute. His visit was heavily criticized by the Chinese embassy in Pretoria.
The Central Tibetan Administration has one of its 12 foreign missions stationed at the administrative capital of South Africa in Preto