Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has lauded the outcomes of the council elections of the 32nd International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Assembly as fair, transparent and without prejudice.
The elections took place last week, where South Africa lost its membership of the IMO Council seat, which it has held since 1997.
“This loss presents an opportunity for South Africa to go back to the drawing board and regroup, with the aim of coming back with a vigorous and a revamped campaign that will ensure that South Africa reclaims its rightful place in the IMO – as well as attain its ambition of becoming an international maritime centre by 2030,’’ the Minister said on Tuesday.
South Africa has been a member of the IMO Council since 1997 following her re-admission to the organisation after many years of isolation from participating in the United Nations and its specialised agencies.
“The country has a strong and rich history with the IMO. Between 2005 and 2015, South Africa was consecutively affirmed as Vice Chair of the IMO Council. In 2009, South Africa also hosted the diplomatic conference that adopted the Cape Town Agreement on the safety of fishing vessels as part of promoting the coming into effect of the Torremolinos Convention,” the Department of Transport said.
That was in addition to active participation in many of the IMO activities globally and at regional level.
Following the loss of the country’s IMO status, Mbalula has made a clarion call to all maritime stakeholders to put shoulder to the wheel and build a formidable campaign that will reclaim South Africa’s IMO status without any further delay.
He has also emphasized that South Africa must dedicate resources to enhance performance of the maritime value chain.
As part of this improvement, South Africa also has a string of maritime bills soon to be tabled in Parliament.
These bills include the much-awaited Merchant Shipping Bill, the Marine Pollution Prevention Amendment Bill, as well as the Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response Bill.
The Minister has thanked all IMO Member States for the confidence bestowed on South Africa for all these years when it was part of the council.
He further reaffirmed South Africa’s commitment to the IMO, that the country will do all it can to give effect to the IMO instruments with the urgency they deserve.
At the 32nd IMO Assembly, South Africa was virtually represented by the Deputy Minister of Transport, Sindisiwe Chikunga.
The High Commissioner and Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Kingdom and the IMO respectively, Nomatemba Tambo, supported her.
They were both joined by Sipho Mbatha, the Alternate Permanent Representative of South Africa to the IMO.
Source: South African Government News Agency