Wednesday, 26 February 2014
Africa News Briefs-Senegal In Turmoil
Global Information Network
Elections May Not Quiet Unrest In Senegal
Feb. 21 (GIN) – The uprising that began in Tunisia and Egypt has landed with both feet in Senegal where an aging president, Abdoulaye Wade, claimed the right to a third term in office despite a constitutional reform that limits presidents to only two.
President Wade is expected to sweep the polls scheduled for Feb. 26. Fourteen other candidates, including two women, are vying for the position.
The failure of the Wade administration after 12 years to bring economic development to this West African nation left many of his former supporters disenchanted, especially the youth. Many suspect that the 85 year leader is only holding the post for his son Karim - a super minister in his father's cabinet - in charge of powerful portfolios such as energy.
What began with peaceful protests and a movement called “We Are Fed Up” turned into a running battle with police shooting rubber bullets and tear gas. The Mayor’s office in Tivaouane, the seat of the Tidiane, Senegal’s largest Islamic brotherhood was burned to the ground and the death toll reached six people.
Interior Minister Ousmane Ngom apologized after a tear gas canister went off inside a mosque where people were praying on Friday.The tear gas incident brought an apology from the government which called it a “police blunder.”
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo was among other Africa Union members urging both sides to allow a peaceful vote. But opposition member Alioune Tine disagreed.
“Dialogue is the best way to have peace and stability in this country,” he said in a press interview. “The best way is not to say, ‘Let us go to elections,’ because if we go to the elections [without dialogue], we will have many problems in this country.”
A second round of voting will be held next month if no one wins 50 percent of ballots.
Toxic Sea Of Gold-Mine Chemicals Rising Beneath Jo'burg
Feb. 21 (GIN) – An underground lake of acidic mine water is expected to reach environmentally critical levels under Johannesburg by June 2012, according to government officials and scientists speaking to the press this week.
Water has already started leaking from abandoned mines west of Johannesburg and is rising on average by about 46 feet a month, independent studies have found.
Johannesburg was built over its gold mines and the threatened land is occupied by some of the country's biggest firms and some of its most densely packed townships and suburbs.
Planning Minister Trevor Manuel said the government had been talking to mining firms about clean-ups but many of the original mining firms have closed or were taken over decades ago.
Clean-ups were high on the radar at the recent “Mining Indaba” – a major conference earlier this month that drew hundreds of visitors. Mamphela Ramphele, chair of the gold-mining company Gold Fields and a director at mining conglomerate Anglo American observed: “A lot of firms say that the problems linked to mining are beyond their control. They should however realize and acknowledge that the extraction of minerals has a hefty social cost.”
“Companies must own the problem and use their innovative power to find solutions.”
Abandoned and old mines cause water pollution and Acid Mine Drainage (AMD). AMD is the outflow of acidic water that is polluted with high concentrations of metals, sulphides and salts from derelict mine shafts, and discharge from open pits and mine waste dumps.
“South Africa has some 6,000 derelict and ownerless mines,” said Melissa Fourie, director of the Centre for Environmental Rights.“The problem is that more and more mines are coming near the end of their lives. People are aware of this problem and are worried.”
African Diaspora In The UK Install Plaque For Malcolm X
Feb. 21 (GIN) – Years after a visit by El Hajj Malik El Shabazz to Smethwick, Birmingham, England, the community has erected a plaque in his honor on the date of his assassination in New York's Audubon Ballroom.
Malcolm X visited Smethwick, after addressing the first meeting of the Council of African Organizations in London.
“The American civil rights activist … made the walk after being invited to view some of the residential houses being denied to African Caribbean and Asian property seekers in the Smethwick,” according to the Nu Jak media release.
“At the time the council had a policy of segregated housing,” the release said. ”The visit by Malcolm X to Marshall Road brought international media attention to the issue, and within a few months a new administration had been sworn in and the policy was overturned.
“Almost half a century later, visitors and site-seers from all over the world still visit Marshall Street to follow in the footsteps of his historic walk.”
To commemorate this, on Feb. 21, 2012, 47 years to the day of his passing, a coalition of local groups will honor Malcolm X with a blue heritage plaque on Marshall Road in Smethwick.
Nigerian Radio Journalist Wins Award For "Saving The Trees"
By Fungai Maboreke
Feb. 21 (GIN) – The Young Environmental Journalist Award has been presented to Ugochi Anyaka of Nigeria for her piece on recycling waste paper in Abuja.
The winning radio report, called Saving the Trees for Paper Briquettes,featured a project based in a low-income suburb in Abuja that utilizes waste paper to make briquettes.
On receiving the award, Ugochi said, “this story was done to show the opportunities in a changing climate-and not just the woes… But ultimately, it tells the story of what some Nigerians are doing to protect their vulnerable environment and save their very existence.”
Besides providing employment for the briquette workers, the project acts as alternative fuel as opposed to firewood, dramatically reducing the risks of indoor burning of firewood and curbing deforestation problem.
As part of her prize, Mrs. Anyaka will travel to the United States as part of a professional exchange under a “green itinerary,” designed to involve her greater participation.
Ms. Anyaka hosts an environmental radio show "Green Angle" on ASO Radio and also works as a producer, reporter and announcer with the station. She writes an environmental blog, Eco Nigeria, at www.greennigeria.wordpress.com.