Tuesday, August 17, 2010
From Creamer Media in Johannesburg, I'm Megan Wait.
The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) on Monday welcomed the outcome of a probe by the Public Protector, which could find no irregularities in contracts awarded to SGL Engineering Projects, with which ANCYL president Julius Malema was involved.
ANCYL spokesperson Floyd Shivambu said that the findings "overturn the allegations spread by the media and rumour mongers that [Malema] was involved in improper dealings with municipalities through SGL [Engineering Projects]."
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela stated that her office "could not determine" whether tenders awarded to SGL by three municipalities "complied with the relevant procurement legislation and other prescripts, owing to poor procurement record keeping by the municipalities".
Poor farming practices, lack of water management, deforestation and climate change are turning vast stretches of the Earth into barren deserts, the United Nations (UN) reports.
Launching a ten-year campaign to halt the advance of deserts, the UN Environment Programme said that land degradation in dry places had affected 3,6-billion hectares - one-quarter of the world's land area - and one-billion people. UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon says that continued land degradation is a threat to food security and productive land. It is estimated that 12-million hectares of arable land is lost to desertification each year, causing losses of agricultural productivity of $42-billion annually.
The UN considers Africa to be the worst affected by desertification. Its semiarid Sahel region, stretching from Senegal in the west to northern Somalia, is fast turning into a wasteland, as is evidenced by the crippling food crises in Niger and Chad.
A US diamond trading network has barred its members from dealing in stones from Zimbabwe's Marange fields, saying that their certification by global regulators does not guarantee that they are free from human rights abuses.
The Kimberley Process (KP) certification scheme, set up to keep "blood diamonds" out of the global gem trade, last week endorsed the sale of 900 000 ct from Zimbabwe's controversial Marange fields. Human rights activists have called for a ban on diamonds from Marange, where Zimbabwe's army was accused of widespread atrocities when it moved in to guard the poorly secured fields after a diamond rush drew up to 30 000 illegal diggers.
The US-based Rapaport Diamond Trading Network said that although the Marange diamonds had received KP endorsement, it will not allow its members to trade in them.
Also making headlines:
Aid groups in Niger evacuate Western staff from certain regions owing to security threats, in a move that risks undermining relief efforts at the heart of the country's food crisis.
South African Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk says that the tourism industry must lead the way to a low carbon economy.
And, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki reshuffles his Cabinet.
That's a roundup of news making headlines today.