Posts tagged as: brown

South Africa: New Eskom Boss Keen to Perform His Duties

Eskom’s new interim Group Chief Executive Sean Maritz has asked for space and time to focus on executing his duties as mandated by the power utility’s board with the support of Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown.

In a statement on Thursday, Maritz said the executive management team remains focused on its five priority initiatives, namely: increasing demand for electricity; reducing primary energy costs; implementing advance analytics to deliver savings; releasing government guarantees; and ensuring the completion of the new build programme.

“Globally, the electricity landscape is changing rapidly. Eskom is not immune to this change and we are facing threats on multiple fronts: within the South African electricity market, and within the broader global energy context. With a wave of change in customer, supplier and competitor behaviour, we are facing a constrained electricity sales path,” he said.

Maritz, who was appointed to the top post last Friday, said the potential sources of revenue growth range from those that are close to the utility’s capabilities to those that are entirely new.

“By exploiting both regulated and unregulated opportunities, we have an opportunity to deliver significant revenue impact. We will do this by unlocking opportunities, focusing on local demand stimulation, cross-border sales and unregulated opportunities.

“A clear distinction exists between the business of today and the Eskom of tomorrow, necessitating a focused and structured approach, which will ensure the right level of focus and drive for each identified opportunity,” he said.

Regarding media reports that he had hired a friend and fellow church member without declaring their friendship, the group chief executive acknowledged the oversight, but refuted suggestions that the awarding of the contract was irregular.

He said the awarding of the contract was adjudicated upon by a panel as per Eskom’s internal processes.

He further refuted claims that he had deleted some information from the server, adding that the IT security system was built in such a way that no email could be deleted.

His six months written warning in relation to the conflict of interest expired in 2010, and has been duly expunged.

In announcing his appointment, the Eskom Board said it has decided to rotate the current executives for this role to “ensure exposure”. Previously, Maritz was the utility’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Group Executive for Information Technology.

McKinsey matter

On the issue of McKinsey’s statement with relations to pay back the fees paid to it, the power utility said it had noted the matter.

“Eskom has noted the statements made by McKinsey in relation to paying back the fees paid to it in 2016. Eskom’s lawyers are handling the matter, and will in due course advise on the way forward,” it said.

Last week, Eskom announced that it would be taking action to recover funds that were paid to McKinsey and Trillian.

In a statement on Thursday, the power utility said it has written to the two companies explaining the action it would take. Eskom requested their cooperation in the matter.

“Eskom sought McKinsey and Trillian’s cooperation in respectively returning R1 billion and R564 million, which appears to have been unlawfully paid out in 2016 and 2017.

“The interim findings from Eskom investigations, into the circumstances surrounding payments made to both companies, point to certain decisions by Eskom, and resultant payments, as being unlawful,” it said at the time.

What Your Tongue Says About Your Health

By Gillian Nantume

The tongue might seem like the smallest part of the body, and almost inconsequential, but did you know that it is the rudder that steers the vessel that is your body? Many times, when you cannot coherently explain your symptoms in the consultation room, a doctor will ask you to stick out your tongue so that he or she might have a look at it because the tongue serves as a mirror that reflects the health status of the body.

Dr Esta Lynn Musinguzi, a dental surgeon with Pan Dental Surgery, says the whole mouth can tell the health of a person. “The tongue is just a part of the mouth that a doctor may look at but it gives important cues.”

The appearance of the surface of your tongue could be communicating something about your general health. Looking at your tongue could save you both social embarrassment and a complicated health situation. So, take the bold step of standing in front of the mirror and stick out your tongue.

Whitish tongue

If you have a white or cream coating on the tongue, try brushing it every morning and evening for a few days. If the white colour has been brought on by poor dental hygiene, it will go away.

However if the white colour does not disappear, it is a sign of a yeast infection or oral thrush. “It could be a fungal infection, such as candida or caused by immunal suppressions caused by cancer or HIV,” Dr Musinguzi says, adding, “The mouth has fungus and bacteria in it and if you have been taking antibiotics for a long time this may encourage the bacteria to grow.”

Since most people brush their teeth at least once a day, one may wonder how bacteria or a yeast infection can survive in the mouth. “There is a small different between the condition of the mouth and the vagina. Both have the similar bacteria buildup, pH and acidity levels. New born babies can get candida during childbirth as they are passing through the vaginal canal.”

Most times, an oral fungal infection is painless, but in some cases, it can cause a burning sensation and taste disturbances. Dr Musinguzi advises that if you have a white or cream coating on your tongue, visit a doctor. “The tongue might be just dirty and you have not cleaned but, it could also be a sign of cancer.”

Brown or black hairy tongue

It the colour of your tongue is brown or black, giving it the appearance of being hairy, you may have neglected your oral hygiene. “The tongue has papilla, which are small bumps on the surface,” Dr Musinguzi says, adding, “Over time, they may trap food, especially if the diet mainly consists of yoghurt and milk. Sometimes, the papilla can become overgrown, making them more likely to become discoloured by food, cigarette smoke, soft diet, or coffee.”

This brown or black colour, although benign, can cause bad breath and bring about a metallic taste in the mouth. If the papilla is overgrown, it may cause one to gag easily while eating. Treatment usually involves cessation of taking the food stuffs that bring about the condition and improving oral hygiene.

Small white patches

These could mean that something is irritating your mouth. These lesions are more common in smokers but can be caused by an abrasion, where the broken off edges of teeth are constantly rubbing on the tongue.

Burning sensation

If your tongue looks normal but has a burning sensation, you need to see your doctor immediately to find out the cause. It could be because you are using the wrong toothpaste. You might have been using one type of toothpaste for many years, and have recently switched to a new one with different ingredients.

“A burning sensation could also be caused by a dry mouth, certain medications, or hormonal changes in the body,” Dr Musinguzi says, adding nutritional deficiencies, such as a lack of minerals and vitamins in the diet could cause a burning sensation.”

A burning sensation on the tongue and mouth could also be associated to depression and anxiety.

Painful sores

These irritating canker sores can occur on the tongue or on the inner parts of the mouth or cheeks. They are your body’s way of telling you your stress levels are high or you are sensitive to some foods. “A simple canker sore can also be caused or made worse by tissue injury or eating citrus fruits and vegetables, using certain types of toothpastes, and biting your tongue during chewing,” Dr Musinguzi says.

However, the more complex sores could be a sign of an impaired immune system or nutritional problems.

If they last for more than two weeks, or keep on recurring, you should consider consulting a doctor.

“However, if it is a cold sore – which is a liquid or pus-filled painful blister – on the tongue or lips, it is contagious and is caused by herpes simplex virus. This definitely warrants a visit to the doctor.”

Lesotho: Another Massive Diamond Find for Letšeng

Photo: Lucara

(File photo).

By Bereng Mpaki

LETŠENG Diamonds this week announced the recovery of a 115-carat diamond, adding to the already impressive performance the mine has had during the first half of 2017.

In June this year, the mine recovered two large diamonds one a high-quality 104.73 carat, D-colour Type IIa diamond and the other a 151.52 carat Type I yellow diamond.

Before that in May this year, the mine recovered a high-quality 80 carat, D colour Type II diamond, while in April it recovered a 114 carat, D colour Type II diamond of exceptional quality.

Gem Diamonds, which owns 70 percent of the mine with the remainder held by the government of Lesotho, released a statement on Tuesday announcing the latest find.

“Gem Diamonds Limited (LSE: GEMD) is pleased to announce the recovery of a high quality 115 carat, D colour Type IIa diamond from the Letšeng mine in Lesotho.

“Today’s announcement follows the recovery of five other diamonds of over 100 carats so far in 2017 from Letšeng, the highest dollar per carat kimberlite diamond mine in the world,” reads part of the statement.

On their half year performance report, Gem Diamonds said:

“The first half of 2017 saw an improvement in the recovery of large diamonds at the Letšeng Mine with four diamonds greater than 100 carats being recovered during the period.”

The mine has generated US$88.8 million (about M1.20 billion) in sales revenue of diamonds.

“During the first half of 2017, four Letšeng tenders were held with 49 930 carats sold for a total value of US$88.8 million*, achieving an average price of US$1 779* per carat. The highest US$ per carat achieved for a rough diamond was US$164 855 per carat for an 8.65 carat pink diamond that was sold on tender. One of the large high value white diamonds achieved the highest US$ per carat for a white diamond since February 2016.

“During the Period, nine diamonds totaling 464.3 carats were sold into partnership arrangements at a total rough value of US$12.5 million. In addition to the rough value, Letšeng will share in the revenue uplift at the time of the sale of the resultant polished diamonds.”

Gem Diamonds is a leading global diamond producer of high value diamonds. The company owns 70% of the Letšeng mine in Lesotho and 100% of the Ghaghoo mine in Botswana.

The Letšeng mine is famous for the production of large, top colour, exceptional white diamonds, making it the highest dollar per carat kimberlite diamond mine in the world.

Famous Letšeng diamonds

Letšeng Mine is remarkable for its recovery of some of the world’s most valuable diamonds and achieves the highest US dollar per carat of any kimberlite mine in the world. Letšeng regularly produces diamonds of outstanding size and exceptional colour and to date, Letšeng has produced five of the 20 largest rough white gem diamonds on record.

In August 2011, a 550 carat white diamond, the Letšeng Star, was recovered at Letšeng and is currently ranked as the 14th largest white diamond ever recorded. Other famous Letšeng diamonds include:

The 601 carat Lesotho Brown

Discovered in 1967, the 601 carat Lesotho Brown diamond was the first significant diamond to be recovered at Letšeng and led to the formal development of the Letšeng mine. Harry Winston acquired the diamond, and the cleaving of the Lesotho Brown Diamond into two pieces was broadcast live on American television in 1968. The polishing was completed in a year and resulted in eighteen gemstones, the largest of which was the Lesotho I, a 71.73 carat flawless emerald cut diamond with a pale pink hue.

The Star of Lesotho

The Star of Lesotho was a spectacular white diamond of 123 carats, recovered at Letšeng in October 2004, days before the official re-opening of the mine. Acquired by SAFDICO in November 2004, it was cut into a heart-shaped diamond of 53.11 carats and subsequently sold by Graff Jewellers.

The 603 carat Lesotho Promise

The 603 carat Lesotho Promise was recovered by Letšeng mine in August 2006.The Lesotho Promise is currently ranked as the world’s 12th largest white diamond on record and the largest diamond to emerge from the Letšeng mine to date and is the largest rough white diamond to be recovered this century. The Lesotho Promise was sold for $12.4 million to SAFDICO, the manufacturing arm of Graff Jewellers, at an auction in Antwerp in October 2006.

The Lesotho Promise was subsequently polished into 26 D flawless diamonds, the largest of which was a 76.4 carat pear-shaped diamond. The diamonds were fashioned into a single necklace that is expected to sell for in excess of $50 million.

The 493 carat Letšeng Legacy

The Letšeng Legacy is currently ranked as the 16th largest rough white diamond ever recovered and was named to reflect the growing legacy that the Letšeng mine is creating as a producer of significant diamonds.

This remarkable 493 carat diamond, discovered in September 2007, was sold at an auction in Antwerp to SAFDICO US$10.4 million in November 2007.

The 478 carat Light of Letšeng

The Leseli La Letšeng, which means Light of Letšeng, is a 478 carat D colour white diamond that was recovered from the Letšeng in September 2008. The name reflects the diamond’s remarkable colour and clarity, the highest possible quality for a white diamond. The diamond is currently ranked as the 17th largest rough white diamond ever to be recovered and was the third significant recovery from Letšeng in as many years. Initial analysis by expert diamantaires indicates that the stone could yield a D colour flawless round brilliant diamond of up to 150 carats, making it the largest diamond of its kind in history.

Light of Letšeng was sold on tender in Antwerp in November 2008 for $18.4 million, to SAFDICO. The price represented an extraordinary price per carat of $38 400, against a global average diamond price of $90 per carat.

The 550ct Letšeng Star

The 550ct Letšeng Star was recovered from the Letšeng mine on 19 August 2011. The name was given to signify the growing number of “stars” in Letšeng’s growing constellation of large diamonds recovered. The Letšeng Star is currently ranked as the 14th largest white rough diamond on record and the second largest white diamond to be recovered at Letšeng. It is currently undergoing in-depth analysis and preliminary estimates suggest that this could be Letšeng’s most valuable diamond to date. -Agencies

Namibia: Taxes Made Easy With TaxTim

Windhoek — Given the looming income tax deadline at the end of September, Standard Bank decided to assist private banking clients to complete their income tax returns efficiently and correctly through a digital system called TaxTim. Standard Bank private clients will have access to the TaxTim Namibia website.

TaxTim is a digital tax assistant which helps taxpayers complete and file their tax return quickly, easily and correctly online. Through this platform, clients can obtain all three of the Namibian tax returns, namely: Salaried individuals including pensioners use the brown return form, individuals with employees with salary structures and allowances and other income rentals or investments use the blue return form, and lastly the yellow return form is meant for business owners or farmers.

“We would like to encourage all our private banking customers to make use of this opportunity of getting their tax records sorted out, as Standard Bank provides this benefit to our private clients free of charge. TaxTim will complete your tax return for you, instantly putting everything in the right place.

“All you have to do is simply answer a series of questions in a conversation with Tim on the TaxTim website and he will complete your return based on your responses.

“TaxTim will add up all the amounts and calculate your tax liability/refund. Once done, you can then simply print and sign the tax return and submit it to Inland Revenue.

“As TaxTim will remind you, it is important to print two copies and ask Inland Revenue to date stamp the second copy as proof that your return was submitted,” said Standard Bank’s head of private banking Britt du Plessis.

With regard to the amnesty, Standard Bank appreciates the window of opportunity that the government has granted to all taxpayers with outstanding debt to get into the tax net in a meaningful way.

Ever since February this year, the bank has also been supporting its private and business banking clients through granting them financial assistance in the form of a loan to cover outstanding debt.

“The added cash flow assisted them to pay off the debts in a manageable way over a certain period of time. This was our way of offering financial planning for our clients and assisting them in sorting out their tax situation,” says Du Plessis.


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South Africa: Crowds Outside Court Where Mother Appears for Alleged Killing of Newborn

“No one knows what’s in her heart,” a woman in the Mitchells Plain Magistrate’s Court told curious bystanders as they waited for a mother to appear on Tuesday morning for allegedly killing her newborn son.

Other women at the court door nodded, adding, “nobody’s perfect” and “only God can judge”, just minutes before 32-year-old Dalene Petersen appeared in the dock.

She was arrested on Sunday after her baby was found under a mattress at a home in Juksei Street, Beacon Valley.

Residents at court, who did not want to be identified, claimed Petersen had choked or strangled the baby. Another alleged that the baby was a love child.

Wearing a pink hooded top and grey pants, Petersen stood before Magistrate Alvira Bezuidenhout for the first time on a charge of murder.

She was asked whether she would like to hire an attorney, use legal aid or represent herself.

“I will represent myself,” she replied softly.

Bezuidenhout warned her that the charge was serious. She then decided to choose legal aid.

Prosecutor Farieda Jacobs said they were following up on bail information.

Escaping the crowds

Petersen would, thus, remain in custody for a week. Her family rushed out of court to escape the crowds.

Her four kids had been placed with a family friend, said Sihle Ngobese, spokesperson for Social Development MEC Albert Fritz.

He said they had become aware of the case after community members approached Fritz to see if he would intervene.

The Mitchells Plain Crisis Forum’s Faizel Brown told News24 outside court that they condemned the killing in the strongest terms.

“That said, obviously we still need to understand the events of this case.”

Brown said the government needed to intervene to put an end to innocent lives being lost.

“We are calling on the Premier of the Western Cape [Helen Zille] to put up a commission of inquiry into child killings. A child commissioner needs to be appointed to deal with their safety.”

Citizens could report abandoned, abused, neglected or missing children to the police or to the social development department hotline on 0800 220 250.

Source: News24

South Africa

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Africa: Most Notorious Insects – the Bugs That Hit Agriculture the Hardest

analysisBy Esther Ndumi Ngumbi

The dreaded crop-eating fall armyworm continues to spread across Africa like wildfire. This invasive insect pest, first reported in Africa in early 2016, is in more than 20 African countries including South Sudan and South Africa. It has destroyed many staple crops like maize. Damage to maize alone by this pest could total USD$3 billion in the next 12 months.

Crop losses in African countries due to insect pests are estimated at 49% of the expected total crop yield each year, according to the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International. But some crop losses can be even worse, and the effects of the changing climate are expected to increase the damage done by insects.

Which are Africa’s top insect pests? The ones named here are just a few of the wide range of insect pests that affect crop production in Africa. But describing the top ones – and the crops they attack – can help focus the minds of researchers, governments and development agencies.

Insects that damage cereal crops

Cereals like maize, rice, wheat and sorghum are Africa’s most important food crops. Maize is by far the most widely grown cereal crop – more than 300 million people out of approximately 1 billion people in sub-Saharan Africa depend on it as their main food source. Maize is severely affected by pests. The most significant yield losses are caused by lepidopteran stem borers, Busseola fusca (Fuller) and Chilo partellus Swinhoe (Crambidae).

Depending on the country, season, region and maize variety, Chilo partellus can cause (annual) yield losses ranging from 15% to 100%. Production losses of up to USD$450 million to farmers in eastern Africa by Chilo partellus have been reported.

Root and tuber crops

More than 240 million tons of root and tuber crops, including cassava, sweet potato, potato and yam, are annually produced on 23 million hectares of land in Africa. As many as 500 million to 1 billion Africans consume cassava. While the crop is tolerant of heat and other extremes, it’s vulnerable to insect pests.

Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) is Africa’s main cassava insect pest. Unlike the stem borers, which chew and bore through stems and new maize cobs, these whiteflies feed directly on plants’ sap. They also carry cassava plant diseases.

The most important disease they transmit are the Cassava Mosaic virus and Cassava Brown Streak disease. Entire yield losses have been reported and annual economic losses in East and Central Africa have been estimated at US$ 1.9-2.7 billion dollars.

Legume crops

Legume crops, including cow peas and beans, are an important part of African diets. They provide protein, vitamins and minerals such as calcium and antioxidants. But the production of most legume crops is threatened by several insect pests including bean flies, aphids, thrips, leafhoppers, whitefly and leaf beetles.

The legume pod borer is a serious pest for cowpeas, a crop that is consumed by over 200 million Africans. Yield losses of up to 80% have been reported in Nigeria, Niger and Burkina Faso — the three major cowpea producing countries.

Efforts at control

Because of insects’ impact on food security, billions of dollars have gone into research aimed at finding effective control measures. The International Center of Insect Physiology, for example, dedicated over a decade of research in an effort to find ecologically sustainable controls for lepidopteran stem borers. The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture is developing crop varieties that are resistant to insect pests and the plant diseases they spread.

There are many more insects that affect African crop production. And minor pests can become a greater threat when weather conditions change or when they develop resistance to chemical pesticides used to control them.

Insects can spread into new areas because of trade and climate change. The resulting outbreaks can destabilise food security and the gains made in crop productivity. The emergence of the fall armyworm in Africa is an example of this.

Many invasive insect species can be controlled at early stages before they disperse to new environments. It requires better surveillance and monitoring by African countries.

This should include predictive modelling – a process that uses data mining and probability to forecast future outcomes. The process could help determine when the next insect invasions are likely to occur or predict the impact of a changing climate on the distribution of insect pests. It has already been used to help predict the impact of temperature changes on the future distributions of lepidopteran maize stem borers and their natural enemies.

Countries could then prepare to reduce the impact of insect invasions. Because insects know no borders, it is important for African countries to work together on combating pests.

Disclosure statement

Esther is a 2015 Food Security Fellow with the New Voices, Aspen Institute

South Africa: Brown Extends Eskom Deadline, Demands More Info

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has extended the 48-hour deadline given to Eskom on Tuesday.

She has asked the state utility to provide more information regarding payments and business relations related to the Gupta-linked Trillian firm.

Brown’s extension comes after the Eskom board convened a meeting on Tuesday to resolve issues around both the Trillian and McKinsey controversies that have been dogging the state utility for months, and compile a report to Brown. But the minister was not satisfied with the information provided.

She has given Eskom until the end of business on Friday to provide her with satisfactory answers.

The minister’s spokesperson Colin Cruywagen said the minister has asked the board to furnish her with particular documents relating to Eskom’s business dealings with Trillian. She will then turn to specialised legal counsel for advice.

“The minister will seek an urgent opinion on the report from a senior council advocate on the contents of the report and advise on particular actions,” Cruywagen said. Brown would then report back to South African.

On Tuesday Brown had given Eskom 48 hours to clarify its business dealings with Trillian, after asking the board in June for a report.

“Following further revelations of impropriety on Monday she has instructed the board to table its report in 48 hours,” Cruywagen said on Tuesday.

She told journalists on Thursday she had no idea that Eskom was lying about the Trillian payments.

The minister’s ultimatum was triggered by Eskom head of legal Suzanne Daniels’ admission on Monday that the power utility had lied about receiving the all clear from global consultancy Oliver Wyman over payments to the Gupta-linked Trillian firm.

The consultancy pressured Eskom to come clean after it initially claimed that a R1.6bn payment to Trillian and McKinsey was above board.

The Eskom board would consider all matters pertaining to McKinsey and other topical issues in a scheduled meeting on Tuesday afternoon, and promised harsh action

“The main objective of the meeting is to find a lasting solution to stem the negative coverage in order to begin a journey to curve out a path towards brand restoration,” explained Zethembe Khoza on Tuesday, Eskom’s acting chair.

He stated that his board was not going to tolerate any proven wrongdoing, by whoever might be involved.

Daniels said on Monday appropriate steps would be taken against anyone responsible for the misleading Oliver Wyman statement in question, but added that what those steps would be could not be divulged at this point. Eskom didn’t want to elaborate on who put out the false statement.

But the board meeting failed to deliver the harsh action that Khoza promised, and said further investigations would follow.

Source: Fin24

South Africa

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South Africa: DA Does Not Buy Minister Brown’s Trillian Excuse

press releaseBy Natasha Mazzone MP

The DA notes Public Enterprises Minister, Lynne Brown’s claim that she did “not know” that Eskom was lying about its relationship with the Gupta-linked Trillian.

The Minister’s comments come after Eskom suddenly made a U-turn on Monday after it initially claimed that the R1.6 billion it had paid to Trillian and Mckinsey was above board.

The DA simply does not buy the Minister’s poor excuse. “I didn’t know” is not good enough and as the Minister of Public Enterprises, she should have known.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the Minister is failing at her job as shareholder representative. Under her watch, dodgy dealings at Eskom for the benefit of the Guptas, have become a common practice.

The DA finds the Minister’s sudden revelations rather suspicious considering that she had allegedly misled Parliament when she seemingly failed to reveal if there had been any existing contracts of engagement between Eskom and Trillian, in a written reply to a DA parliamentary question.

Minister Brown needs to stop digging deeper holes for herself and lay bare what she knows or come clean as to who lied to her.

All those involved in Eskom’s latest scandal must be held to account. These include the Minister, under whose watch this happened, and the suspended Eskom CFO, Anoj Singh, who not only facilitated Eskom’s procurement of these contracts but also allegedly orchestrated the power utility’s lies when this scandal came to light.

The DA has already laid charges against Anoj Singh regarding his work as a Gupta henchmen at Eskom, and we have also reported the Minister to the Public Protector.

The DA will ensure that this Trillian saga is duly investigated at the upcoming Eskom Inquiry.


The Farlam Commission Report was released over 2 years ago, but nothing has been done since then to provide closure on the greatest tragedy of our young democracy.

Read Mmusi Maimane’s full speech

Natasha Mazzone MP

DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises

South Africa

Gupta Sun City Probe Part of Larger Investigation – Police Unit

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Scientific Breakthrough in Fight Against Cassava Diseases

Photo: Daily News

Cassava (file photo)

By Masembe Tambwe

Scientists have identified the first ever genetic markers associated with resistance to two deadly cassava viral diseases in Tanzania’s grown varieties.

The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), in a statement availed to the ‘Daily News’ yesterday, identified the two varieties as Namikonga and Albert.

Mostly grown by Tanzanian farmers, the varieties are capable of withstanding the devastating Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) and Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD), unlike other varieties.

A team of scientists that has been studying the varieties’ DNA has successfully identified the genetic markers linked to their resistance to each of the viral diseases. The markers can be used to speed up the often long and expensive conventional breeding for cassava varieties with dual resistance to the diseases. “We are very happy with the findings of our studies which are a result of over six years of research.

“It is an important milestone in the efforts to revive cassava production in East, Central and Southern Africa where the two diseases remain a serious problem, threatening the region’s food security,” said Morag Ferguson, a molecular breeder at IITA.

Ferguson said for West Africa, where there is great fear of CBSD spreading and with devastating effects on the food security, the markers can assist in pre-emptive breeding.

Namikonga and Albert, which are genetically related, have been grown by farmers in areas that are hotspots for the two viral diseases for many decades and have shown high resistance despite being subjected to the diseases for a long period.

Namikonga is tolerant to CBSD but highly susceptible to CMD while in contrast, Albert is highly susceptible to CBSD but resistant to CMD.

The international team, drawing scientists from Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, and the United States, crossed the two Tanzanian varieties and studied a large population of the progeny over two seasons in two disease hotspots in the country.

“The studies have enabled us to better understand the location of genes we suspect are associated with resistance to CBSD in the DNA of the farmer-preferred cassava variety, Namikonga, and CMD in the variety Albert,” noted Ms Esther Masumba, the molecular breeder from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries.

She added, “Once validated,this will help speed up breeding through marker-assisted selection (MAS) which shortens the breeding cycle and reduces the offspring population that breeders have to work with.

Breeders will be able to quickly narrow down from the thousands of offspring to only those with the desired markers.” She was part of the research team and conducted the study as part of her PhD studies at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

Most of the cassava breeding programmes in Africa use purely conventional breeding methods that are laborious and expensive due to long breeding cycles and the need for large field trials. The application of molecular markers in breeding and selection of crop varieties can both reduce breeding time and costs.

The research team will now continue to validate these markers for their applicability in marker assisted breeding (MAB).


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Former Miss Kenya Making Waves As Makeup Artist

Photo: The Nation

Ruth ‘Ruthie’ Kinuthia is an award-winning makeup artist and beauty guru, as well as the founder and head makeup artist at Makeup by Ruthie.


Ruth ‘Ruthie’ Kinuthia is an award-winning makeup artist and beauty guru, as well as the founder and head makeup artist at Makeup by Ruthie. She is also a former Miss Kenya, and was the Makeup Artist of the Year in 2016 at Kenya Fashion Awards.

She spoke to about her journey:

Was the switch from beauty queen to makeup artist natural, or difficult? Coming from being on the stage to behind the stage must have been quite a shift.

It was quite the shift but I have always felt like going from the modelling world into the makeup art world was a natural transition for me. As a beauty queen, I always loved the beauty and cosmetic industry and was very acquainted with makeup because I did my own makeup for a lot of the pageantry appearances and events.

What’s next for Makeup by Ruthie? How do manage to find ways to reinvent yourself and stay relevant?

I’m quite enthusiastic about the world of makeup so naturally I’m driven to learn new things, new techniques, find out about the latest products and makeup trends from the around the world. I also listen keenly to what my client’s needs are and do a lot of research. Knowledge is power.

What is the makeup scene in Kenya like? I know you travel cross country a lot for things like weddings and events. Is there a lot of competition, or work is in plenty? Do you guys help each other out, or have a network of some sort?

The industry looks very promising and is rapidly growing with a lot of new entrants into the market. I do quite enjoy the fact that I get to travel all over Kenya and abroad. As with every industry, competition is inevitable. The upside is that the makeup artistry community is closely knit. So we do come together to work on projects and jobs quite often.

What products do you prefer to use? Would you say that the product business in Kenya is booming, especially in regards to local products like Suzie Beauty? Would you ever consider doing a line yourself?

The cosmetic industry in Kenya has rapidly evolved over the past 10 years. Ladies have gone from wearing a simple lipstick when attending a special event to wearing considerably more makeup on a day to day basis. This of course goes hand in hand with the availability of high quality and affordable makeup products in the country. I love using products such as Mac, Bobbi Brown, Inglot and Estee Lauder products. I would definitely consider doing a line.

What are some of the amazing places being an MUA has taken you, some of your favourite gigs?

I have travelled to quite a number of places both within Kenya and abroad… . I’d have to say that one of my favourite destinations was Johannesburg, South Africa. One of my most memorable gigs locally was when the country held its Kenya at 50 nationwide events. I was privileged to work back stage as a makeup artist at the Kenya at 50 All Stars event that hosted almost every single musician and performing artist in Kenya… . that was a great event.

What do you think needs to change in the Kenyan beauty scene as a whole? More cooperation, more events, more quality, for example?

First off, there are way too many counterfeit products in the market… there should be a stricter regulation enforced against selling counterfeit cosmetics which more often than not have negative reactions on the user.

What did it feel like to be given an award for your makeup work? Has it changed you, your business, or expanded your horizons in any way?

It felt surreal. I was extremely humbled by the experience and receiving recognition for my work was worth all the investment and hard work I have put into the Makeup by Ruthie brand. Receiving the Makeup artist of the year Award definitely set me apart and enlarged my client base and opened my eyes to new heights I could scale in the industry.

Do you do any type of mentorship for up and coming makeup artists or beauty queens?

I do offer training programs for upcoming and aspiring makeup artists. I love to give back and share the knowledge, experience and skill I have acquired over the years. I also avail myself to mentor beauty queens and walk them through the ins and outs of the pageant world. It’s always a great feeling to give back.

Who are some makeup icons, both locally and internationally, who you look up to?

I would have to say… . Danny Sanz, Lisa Eldridge, Pat McGrath, and Kevin Aucoin, just to name a few. They have made leaps and bounds in the international makeup scene. Locally I would have to say Suzie Wokabi (founder of Suzy beauty) and Muthoni Njoba (Brand ambassador for Maybelline New York) who are incredible icons in the Kenyan makeup industry. They both took me under their wing when I started out in the makeup industry. I learned fortitude, focus, diligence and the importance of working towards a goal and achieving it.

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