“We take strong exception to the utterances of the mayor of Cape Town which have cast aspersions on the integrity of the South African government and the country,” spokesman Mac Maharaj said in a statement.
“The mayor has accused government of not providing a visa to his holiness the Dalai Lama to participate in the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates… which in her view led to the cancellation of the summit. This is inaccurate and misleading.”
Maharaj said the South African government was informed by the Dalai Lama’s office that he would not be attending the summit, “thus effectively cancelling his visa application”.
“We pride ourselves in South Africa of having produced Nobel laureates and hold all laureates in the world in the highest regard.”
The Tibetan spiritual leader wanted to attend the summit, which was initially scheduled in Cape Town this month.
Last month, 14 Nobel laureates wrote to President Jacob Zuma asking that a South African travel visa be granted to the Dalai Lama after he failed to secure the document for the third time in five years.
At the time, the department of international relations said the visa application was a closed matter and that he had cancelled his trip.
On Thursday, De Lille told reporters the primary reason for the relocation was the fact that government refused to allow the Dalai Lama a visa to attend.
“In light of this appalling treatment of the Dalai Lama by the South African government, the [summit’s] permanent secretariat had no choice but to contact the Nobel laureates and institutions with a view to identifying possible dates and alternative locations so that they can participate in the Nobel summit as they intended,” De Lille said.
On the same day, Agence France-Presse quoted the Dalai Lama as saying he was refused entry into the country.
“The Nobel Peace summit scheduled to be held in South Africa to honour the legacy of our fellow laureate, the late Nelson Mandela, has been cancelled as the South African government wouldn’t allow me to attend it,” the Dalai Lama said in a speech in the northern Indian town of Dharamshala.
“This is sort of bullying a simple person.”
The City of Cape Town said on Thursday the summit would be moved to another country.