Johannesburg: The Dalai Lama will receive the Mahatma Gandhi peace prize, the legendary Indian leader's granddaughter Ela Gandhi announced on Sunday on Gandhi Jayanti and asked the South African government to grant a visa to the Tibetan spiritual leader to visit the country.
The Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Peace and Reconciliation will be conferred on the 76-year-old Dalai Lama at the annual Satyagraha Awards to be held at the Durban City Hall next Sunday.
The event is one of several public invitations that the Dalai Lama has accepted during a proposed South African visit this week, amid concern that the South African government may not grant him a visa under Chinese pressure.
The visit was prompted by an invitation from fellow Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu for the Dalai Lama to join him for his 80th birthday celebrations on Friday.
Denying that the visa was being delayed due to a visit to South Africa's biggest trading partner China by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe last week, South African authorities said the visa was still "under consideration" on Friday, less than a week before the start of his visit. The Dalai Lama had previously been refused a visa in 2009.
Expressing the hope that the visa would be issued in time, Ela Gandhi said the award would be given to a representative of the Dalai Lama in case of his absence.
"Since he is a spiritual head and not a political one, there should be no problem issuing the Dalai Lama with a visa," she said.