Govt has shamed SA

Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is right to say Archbishop Desmond Tutu - who is not impressed with the state's decision not to issue the Dalai Lama a visa - does not run government.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is right to say Archbishop Desmond Tutu - who is not impressed with the state's decision not to issue the Dalai Lama a visa - does not run government.

But Dlamini-Zuma misses the point. Nobody contests who runs government. It is Tutu's country too. He is entitled to a point of view.

It remains a patriot's duty to protect their country from their government when the situation requires. That is what Tutu has done.

If the minister has anything to say about the merits of the argument, she should engage instead of pulling rank.

We were made to understand that the Polokwane outcome was a victory of a people over a leadership that thought it was all-knowing. But, as Dlamini-Zuma shows, some habits are hard to discard.

The minister's attack is a throwback to her former boss Thabo Mbeki's petty attack on "The Arch" after the clergyman had aired his misgivings about how government had handled the Zimbabwe question and about its commitment to eradicating poverty.

It gets worse. The Dalai Lama issue is starting to produce signs of revisionism and denialism. It is just like the Mbeki era sought to intimidate those who questioned some of government's decisions, calling them anything from ultra-leftists to counter-revolutionaries.

Jeremy Cronin should know better. He was forced to apologise for complaining about the Zanufication of the ANC. But today the man, who is normally a voice of reason, makes a valiant effort to point out that the Dalai Lama is not the hero he is made out to be.

One would think that given his experience, Cronin would mount a defence for the right to express one's view about one's country.

But just like Dlamini-Zuma, Cronin chooses to ignore the heart of the matter. Two things here: the government has shamed us by choosing realpolitik over an ideal for which we became an international beacon of hope. Secondly, all of us have a right to call it as we see it. We do not need to run a government first.

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