The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has distanced itself from blame over the failure of some foreign heads of state to visit the Isles saying it has no powers on official and private visits.
It said the fact of the matter is that the entire time tables for official and private visits are prepared by the visiting country which sets the specific areas to be visited by the foreign leader, though it says it is involved in state visits.
The statement was given yesterday by the Deputy Minister for Communication, Science and Technology, January Makamba on behalf of the Foreign Minister, when responding to a question posed by Muhammad Ibrahim Sanya (Old Town-CUF).
Sanya wanted government explanation as to why some foreign leaders such as former US President George W. Bush, Chinese President Hu Jintao , the Turkish Prime Minister and the former US Foreign Secretary did not visit Zanzibar as part of the Union.
MP Sanya argued that there was a culture of foreign leaders to visit the Isles since the establishment of the Union back in 1964 and mentioned some of the leaders who did so as those from Cuba, Algeria, South Africa and India.
Makamba noted: “There are several types of visits by foreign leaders in the country, namely state visits, official visits, working visits and private visits. For state visits the concerned countries are involved in setting up areas to be visited but for official and private visits, it is the visitor who set the areas.”
Before any leader visits the country an advance delegation hands a note on the areas preferred by the leader, in the case of official and private visits.
“The government has no say on the areas to be visited. The decision on the areas depends on the leader’s wish, with a good example being the recent visit by Prince Charles who chose to visit the Isles. Preparations were put in place and he visited the area, contrary to other foreign leaders,” the deputizing deputy minister noted.
Makamba affirmed: “The visits by presidents Bush, Hu Jintao, Turkish premier Abdullah Gul and former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton were official visits where the foreign ministry was not directly involved in identifying the areas.