Pretoria: 01 December 2023
Approximately 24 months ago, South Africa’s maritime sector bowed its head with deep felt disappointment when the country lost its International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Category C Council seat by a flimsy margin for the 2022-2023 biennium ending this month November 2023.
The IMO Council Category C elections at the time involved 20 States deemed to have special interests in maritime transport or navigation and whose election to the Council ensures the representation of all major geographic areas of the world, but had not been elected under Category A or B.
South Africa, a previous a Council member up to that point, along with Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, and Morocco, were the five African IMO Member States and candidates vying for a seat in the IMO 40-Member Council 2022-2023 biennium. Only Egypt, Morocco, and Kenya retained their seats.
The next round of elections for the 2023-2025 biennium takes place once again in London on Friday, 01 December 2023, with South Africa, led by the Minister and Department of Transport, assisted by among others, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), are more than willing to wrestle back a seat so as restore the country’s representation of itself, southern Africa, and the African continent broadly on the IMO Council.
Boasting a long-standing relationship with the IMO since 1948 in an observer status, prior to eventually gaining full membership in 1995, South Africa ’s campaign for a re-election in December 2023, with the theme: Sailing into a Sustainable Maritime Future, began in earnest more than a year ago, involving variable approaches to lobbying for support in various countries and maritime organisations in Africa and globally.
However, the build-up gained significant momentum from the time South Africa hosted the IMO’s World Maritime Day Parallel Event in Durban, attended by delegates from the body’s 175 Member States from across the world. Other engagements with relevant stakeholders in the South Africa campaign have since been held and continue in the build up to election day scheduled for Friday.
Based on campaign documentation including a brochure developed for this year’s event, among South Africa selling points is the country’s natural geolocation attributes, its long history of direct involvement and progressive contribution to both domestic and global maritime administration and development aspects through the IMO and associated fraternal organisations, regionally and internationally, as well as its positive prospects across a broad range of aspects including human development, modern infrastructure, technological advances etc.
On this year’s round of elections according to the IMO, a total 46 candidates (11 for Category A, 10 for Category B and 25 for Category C) have been confirmed, with China, Greece, Italy, Japan, Liberia, Norway, Panama, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and United States contesting the A category’s 11 seats.
For the 25 Categories C Council seats, South Africa, one of only three African countries contesting this time around, is grouped with 20 Member States which, according to the IMO; are “… not elected under (a) or (b)… [and]… which have special interests in maritime transport or navigation, and whose election to the Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world.”
The list comprises Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, Indonesia, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, and Türkiye.