Dalai Lama
Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. Reuters

A meeting of Nobel peace laureates in Cape Town has been cancelled by local authorities, after numerous guests boycotted the event after the Dalai Lama was denied an entry visa to South Africa.

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille said the 2014 World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, scheduled for mid-October, was suspended until further notice.

"The primary reason for the relocation is the fact that the South African Government refuses to issue a visa for His Holiness, the Dalai Lama," de Lille said.

The decision came as the majority of the 14 Nobel laureates invited to the summit dedicated to the memory of Nelson Mandela pulled out of the event in protest after a letter they signed demanding President Jacob Zuma allow Tibet's exiled spiritual leader into the country was left unanswered.

"In light of this appalling treatment of the Dalai Lama by the South African Government, the 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," wrote de Lille, who is a member of the opposition party Democratic Alliance.

The mayor accused Zuma's ANC-led government of undermining South Africa's international standing, saying they had "embarrassed the country".

Earlier, the Dalai Lama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, said the South African government behaviour was akin to "bullying".

Retired archbishop Desmond Tutu, a friend of the Dalai Lama and a fellow Nobel peace laureate, also criticised Zuma saying his government was a "lickspittle bunch" for its alleged deference to China, a close business partner.

Tutu accused the ANC leader of "kowtowing to the Chinese" adding that Mandela's own "comrades have spat in his face".

"I warned them then that just as we had prayed for the downfall of the apartheid government, so we would pray for the demise of a government that could be so spineless," Tutu said.

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in the wake of a failed rebellion against Chinese occupation in 1959. Beijing claims that his campaign for a greater autonomy for Tibet within China is in fact a covert separatist effort.