The Chinese Embassy in Botswana is tight-lipped over whether the visits of The Dalai Lama who is regarded as the world’s most famous political figure will cause a strain to the country’s relationship between the two countries.
Director of Political Affairs at the Chinese Embassy Tang Shenping was at pains to explain the circumstances surrounding the Dalai Lama’s impending visit to Botswana.
He acknowledged the sensitivity of the matter and promised to issue a press release.
“This is a sensitive matter and I am not at liberty to disclose anything to you at the moment. But I promise you that I will issue a press statement relating to this matter,” said Shenping.
University of Botswana Acting Director of Corporate Affairs, Tefo Mangopa, referred this publication to a local agency dealing with the matter called Careen Health Centre.
“What I can tell you is that I don’t think the University is directly in charge except that we are providing a venue,” said Mangopa.
The Director of Careen Centre for Health Dr Ava Avalos referred this publication to DJ Crotteau from Mind and Life Dialogue and Daphne Kadiwa who is Chief of Protocol in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations.
A communication from the Mind and Life Dialogue which have signatories of DJ Crottau and Kadiwa reveal that the Dalai Lama would participate in the three-day conference on August 17-19 this year titled: “Botho/Ubuntu: A Dialogue on Spirituality, Science and Humanity with the Dalai Lama”.
The communication further states that the dialogue in Botswana explores the potential of Botho as a framework for healing the legacy and trauma of wars and colonialism and advancing social justice and women’s equality.
The communiqu├® further states that the Dalai Lama will also speak to the public during a separate address.
Botswana has in the past ignored advise from some NGOs like BONELA but later found herself embarrassed by American Pastor Steven Anderson who was later kicked out of the country for hate speech.
South Africa has previously rejected the Dalai Lama a visa three times.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Gaeimelwe Goitsemang told Sunday Standard that the government had not deliberated on the Dalai Lama’s visit and has thus not taken a position. He said the man is not invited by government nor is he visiting the Botswana government.
“I can confirm that the Dalai Lama and his team will have a meeting here in Botswana and as government we have nothing to do with his meeting.
But with the issue of visa at this stage I cannot confirm nor deny that he will be granted a visa because the Ministry of Immigration has not yet communicated with us if they have received any application from him,” said Goitsemang
Goitsemang said Botswana is a sovereign state and it doesn’t mean that if a person has been denied a visa in South Africa then he is treated the same by Botswana.
“I’m not saying we will grant him or deny him a visa but what I’m trying to explain is that we are totally different countries,” said Goitsemang
The Dalai Lama is both a spiritual and political leader. But China views him as leading Tibet towards secession from the mainland.