Freeman Razemba Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe has been elected into the United Nations specialised agency for civil aviation after winning a historic seat during the International Civil Aviation Organisation Council (ICAO) elections which were held in Montreal, Canada as the engagement and re-engagement foreign policy continues bearing fruit under the Second Republic.
This development means that, the country will now leverage the region’s aviation industry through it’s candidature in the ICAO.
This comes hard on the heels of Zimbabwe Telecommunications Expert, Dr Cosmas Zavazava making history by winning elections for the powerful and coveted director Telecommunications Development Bureau (BDT) position at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) after an electrifying three rounds of voting at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Bucharest, Romania.
Until yesterday, Zimbabwe had not occupied an elective position in any of the UN organs and this victory will go down as a momentous achievement for the country and the SADC region.
For this position, Africa fielded four candidates from Cameroon, the Gambia, Congo Brazzaville and Zimbabwe while the other candidates were from Bahamas and Pakistan.
Zimbabwe was competing for the seat in ICAO after SADC member states gave the nod for the country’s candidature.
The elections took place during the ICAO assembly’s 41st session at it’s headquarters in Montreal, Canada on Tuesday.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona was leading the delegation that attended the elections.
In his speech, Minister Mhona said the country had became a contracting ctate of ICAO on March 13, 1981 following its ratification of the Convention on International Civil Aviation, just one year after gaining its independence.
He said since then and working together with other member states, Zimbabwe has been committed to advancing ICAO’s strategic objectives geared towards a safe, secure, orderly, efficient and sustainable global civil aviation system.
“We are so delighted as a team and we came here with one mission, to win and make sure that Zimbabwe is represented in the International Civil Aviation Organisation, an executive committee that superintendents over aviation issues.
“I am happy that we were in this race as an historic mark where we were following the footsteps and mantra that is being championed by His Excellency Cde Dr Emmerson Mnangagwa, that Zimbabwe is Open for Business and we also have the open skies policy,” he said.
Minister Mhona said they started through Cabinet where they deliberated over the issue to make sure that Zimbabwe was represented in the executive council.
He said the council comprises of 36 member states out of the 193 that are known.
“I am happy that on October 4, here in Montreal, Canada, we got the support of 148 countries out of the potential voters which was 175. I am delighted because as a nation people were saying we were not qualified to compete internationally, but alas we have demonstrated to the outside world that Zimbabwe has got safe skies. We can partake and participate in the issues to do with aviation.
We however want to say, well done to President Mnangagwa, we have won as a nation and this victory for the people of Zimbabwe,” Minister Mhona said.
He said to the people of Zimbabwe, if they all put their heads together there is nothing that they cannot achieve. This, he added, was a living testimony that in aviation issues, their voice can now be heard as a nation.
“We must take advantage of this seat which we are to superintendent over three years. We have been in this council since 1981 but not in the executive council. Now we are however able to participate in the decision making of the entire world when it comes to aviation matters,” the minister said.
The event was attended by government officials from the region and the ICAO executives.