Archive from July, 2018

What happened on Facebook’s nightmare conference call that wiped out almost R2 trillion in market value in 90 minutes

• Facebook stock dropped a whopping 24% after it announced its second quarter financial results on Wednesday.
• The plunge came after Facebook executives announced that the company expects a significant slowdown in its revenue growth in the years ahead.
• Here’s what happened during the disastrous conference call with analysts that saw Facebook value fall by as much as $148 billion (R1,95 trillion), almost half of South Africa’s GDP in 2016.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a new feel-good statistic on a conference call with financial analysts on Wednesday: some 2.5 billion people — a third of the world’s population — now use at least one of Facebook’s products each month.
But that staggering statistic wasn’t enough to distract investors from the bad news the company had to share — it expects significantly decreased revenue growth rates and operating margins in the years ahead.
The proof was in Facebook’s stock, which during the call was down as much 24% from its price at the close of regular trading. In fact, the call with Zuckerberg and his colleagues only made things worse for Facebook, in terms of its share price.
An hour before the call started, Facebook announced disappointing second quarter financial results. The company missed Wall Street’s expectations on both revenues and its number of daily and monthly active users.
Its stock fell more than 8% on that news. But it stayed relatively steady after that, at least until the call started and David Wehner, Facebook’s chief financial officer, started discussing the company’s financial outlook. Wehner warned that Facebook expected its revenue growth to slow from the 42% pace it posted in the second quarter and its operating margins to fall from 44% in the period.
“Looking beyond 2018, we anticipate that total expense growth will exceed revenue growth in 2019,” he said. “Over the next several years, we would anticipate that our operating margins will trend towards the mid-thirties on a percentage basis.”
Facebook’s stock really fell off during the company’s earnings call
During the call, Facebook’s stock dropped precipitously. Within minutes it was down 15%, then 18%, then more than 24%. At the stock’s lowest point, more than $148 billion of the company’s value — significantly more than the entire market cap of IBM ($134 billion) — had been wiped out. That is 42% of South Africa’s 2017 GDP.
Facebook’s shares rebounded later, but at the time of this writing, they still remained deep in the red, at a little over 20% down.Yahoo Finance
Three key factors are driving Facebook’s expected revenue growth decline, Wehner said. First, Facebook is battling currency headwinds. Its overseas revenue got a boost in dollar terms as the dollar appreciated against other currencies last year. But the dollar’s decline this year will reduce the dollar value of Facebook’s foreign revenue.
Second, the company is placing more emphasis on Stories, the packages of posts and photos users can share with their friends that generally disappear after 24 hours. The company doesn’t yet make as much money from Stories as from its news feed and other features on its site.
And then there’s an increased focus on privacy and security, which Zuckerberg had previously warned could harm the company’s profitability. New options that Facebook is offering users to opt out of certain data collection — inspired in part by a new privacy law in Europe — could lead to less advertising revenue.
Facebook’s expected decline “is beyond anything we’ve seen”
As analysts pounded Facebook executives on the call about the company’s expected deterioration in its financial results, its stock continued to sink. Towards the end of the call, a Jeffries analyst seemed astonished at the scale of the growth slowdown, saying it “seems the magnitude is beyond anything we’ve seen.”
Wehner warned analysts not to expect the company’s financial results to get better anytime soon.
The company will likely be posting sub-par operating margins for “several years … more than two, less than many,” he said.
It’s a staggering drop-off for Facebook, and flies in the face of Wall Street’s expectations. Earlier in the day, its stock had hit a new all-time-high of more than $218 a share. A few short hours later, that already seems like a distant memory.

SA field guide training an ideal fit for international students

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the South African tourism industry will continue to contribute positively to the economy year-on-year. As such, programmes targeted at young, international students making their way to the country for upskilling has become renowned.

Field guide training, which has become a forerunner in the tourism industry job market is one such programme which exposes students to the wild and enables them to learn about guide principles, animal behaviour, biomes, climate, as well as hospitality in the game lodge industry. Bushwise Recruitment, a post-matric training academy provides students with the opportunity to explore the best that South Africa has to offer.

Academy founder, Sophie Niemann says it’s their international student in-take that has remained steady since 2012 – and through its vast industry network, assists with securing employment for its graduates at some of the country’s most prestigious lodges.

“The fact that students from outside SA are coming here to further their education in this niche industry is wonderful. It bodes so well for tourism in our country and places South Africa on an international stage. Further, it demonstrates that Bushwise is recognised as leaders in this industry as well,” says Niemann.
Developing SA ambassadors

Although securing employment for South African students remain the academy’s first priority, Niemann says international graduates make an equally positive contribution to the industry outside of the country, despite not being employed here. “The knowledge that international student’s gain during the programme develops them into South African ambassadors who would easily be able to articulate the beauty of our natural resources and the enriching experiences tourists can have here. It’s also the stepping stone for their careers in international conservation.”

Niemann adds that many of Bushwise’s international students also go back home and engage in public discussions on their experiences in South Africa and the value of studying towards this qualification in a country well-known around the world for its wildlife.

“The fact that we have these men and women from all over the world are coming here for a purpose, achieving that and going back home and promoting not only the programme but the country as a whole is wonderful, and continues to build SA’s reputation globally, which is exactly what we need as a nation needs.”

Refugee management is not a simple task

2018-07-22 – City Press
Terry Bell’s report, “Skilled Personnel: smuggled, exploited in SA” (City Press, July 15 2018), sheds light on refugee management complexities that are often simplified in self-serving diatribes.
A typical example is Claire van den Heever’s “Humanitarian in appearance, inhumane in reality” (City Press, July 15 2018), which is far-fetched to say the least. South Africa does more with its limited resources in the service of all of humanity.
Bell’s report offers a rare glimpse of the push and pull factors ejecting individuals from their countries. He exposes, through the eye of a Pakistani trader, how people are trafficked, smuggled and exploited.
Without analysing who migrates, why, how and at what cost, it’s easy to downplay sacrifices and humanitarian efforts made by countries like South Africa. We learn that the trader was already in Mozambique before crossing the border, without papers, which were “arranged” later by his handlers. He left Pakistan not because of a well-founded fear of persecution.
We are reminded of grounds for qualifying for refugee status in Van den Heever’s recycled invective accusing us of inhumanity for seeking to test each claim to refugee status. This is prescribed by law, which the department of home affairs implements with applicable agencies and organs of state.
The trader is duped by some unscrupulous character enticing people to migrate to South Africa with no well-founded fear of persecution.
Though not the only factor, I suppose this should illuminate why South Africa’s refugee system is under pressure, adversely affecting the processing of applications of genuine asylum seekers.
The asylum system is not a failure. Far from it. Improvements continue to be made to capacitate refugee offices and staff. Think of the resources going into the new Desmond Tutu Refugee Reception Centre, which features an automated booking system that should help in addressing waiting time while curbing fraud and corruption.
The World Bank’s recent report on migration puts South Africa as a destination six times higher than any country in the southern African region. That alone speaks volumes about the humane character of the refugee system South Africa provides in comparison to any other country in the region, where the right to work is extended even to asylum seekers, as well as a non-encampment policy, freedom to move and benefit from social services.
Last month, the department announced the reopening of the refugee office in Port Elizabeth, which promises adequate accommodation for applicants with legitimate claims. Like the Desmond Tutu Refugee Reception Centre, it has a streamlined process, baby-changing stations and multiple ablution facilities. There’s provision to also accommodate the standing committee for refugee affairs, appeal board hearings and immigration inspectorate facilities.
Regarding the Cape Town refugee office, plans have commenced to comply with the court order. There’s a budget allocated and funding for filling of key posts. The new automated booking system has been rolled out in Cape Town, and signs of relief to the ever-growing asylum-seeking population in the city are already showing.
In November, an improved refugee travel document was introduced as part of the roadmap towards the integration of refugees into society. This document satisfies international standards and, in fact, it would be interesting to pause and determine how many UN member states have met this significant milestone before criticising us.
The Refugee Amendment Act that was assented to in December seeks to enhance the protection regime by, among other things, allowing applicants to receive fast and improved services. It allows for legally qualified members of the Refugee Appeal Board to determine matters individually at the discretion of the chairperson, and for flexible employment of any number of appeals authority staff to deal with volumes of cases.
The need for a border management authority was mooted in 2009 for integrated and efficient management of the country’s ports of entry and the borderline. Cabinet formally resolved on its establishment in 2013. It endorsed its vision in 2014. Home affairs, with other government departments and agencies, was given the task of carrying out this decision. Before approval by the National Assembly in June last year, there was extensive engagement on the Border Management Authority Bill within government, the National Economic Development and Labour Council and broader society.
Isn’t it ironic to complain that borders are “porous” while opposing initiatives for enhancing immigration and border control? There were platforms for public consultation. The system of exploitation and cheap labour is sustained by corporates and by some among us who are prone to cry foul in pursuance of their own selfish interests.
Managing migration is a societal issue. Thus, the new white paper on international migration advocates for a whole of government and society approach, and outlines roles of national, provincial and local government.
There is political will. In the broader scheme of things, this became clearer last year when Cabinet approved a new business case for the repositioning of home affairs. It said, inter alia, that the department must be positioned within the security system of the state to enable it to deliver its full mandate as a critical enabler of inclusive economic development, national security, effective service delivery and efficient administration.

Government vows to throw weight behind film industry

IOL – 23 July 2018,
Durban – Minister of trade and industry Rob Davies said on Monday that the South African government was committed to supporting the film industry in order to ensure that it continues to contribute to the country’s economic growth, creating jobs and telling South African stories to the world.
“As a department, we recognise that like in other sectors, one cannot be a successful player in the film industry if there are no incentives to support the industry. In order to ensure that our incentives are competitive and relevant to the needs of the industry, we have conducted a review to see what revisions were necessary,” Davies said.
“We assessed the incentive programme, with extensive participation from industry and partner stakeholders in government, in order to try to be competitive, and to ensure that the incentives support the development of sustainable value chains and inclusive ecosystems. We are looking forward to seeing more new productions, including productions that will find their way onto the world stage.”
Davies was speaking at the launch of the revised guidelines of the Department of Trade and Industry’s (the dti) film and television production incentives which took place at the Durban International Film Festival.
The revised foreign film and television production and post-production incentive facilitates growth of the sector, building on shooting location advantages as a quality service provider for both local and international shoots. The new guidelines will be effective from 1 September 2018.
African News Agency (ANA)

White paper highlights Gigaba’s antipoor and anti-African approach

23 July 2018 – Business Day

Since Malusi Gigaba stepped back into the role of home affairs minister in February, it is time to reflect critically on his regressive, antipoor and anti-African international migration vision for SA. The White Paper on International Migration, approved by the government in March 2017, aims to manage migration to achieve SA’s national goals.
The white paper states that SA’s new international migration policy “must be oriented towards Africa”. However, there is little in the document that suggests the new policy will be pro-African. Rather, the Department of Home Affairs wants to make it extremely difficult for predominantly poor black people from elsewhere in Africa to come to SA.
The new immigration plans are framed around national development and security goals. Poor and unskilled immigrants are essentially seen as a threat to SA’s security, stability and prosperity. The white paper separates migrants into “worthy” and “unworthy” individuals. The international migrants who have skills and money are welcome to come to the country and can stay in SA permanently. Others — the poor and unskilled — are deemed unworthy and undesirable.
The former minister, Hlengiwe Mkhize, is on record saying SA must tighten its immigration policy and protect its borders — even if this is labelled anti-African behaviour on the continent. If poor foreigners somehow enter the country, they will be dealt with harshly and likely deported.
SA is one of the world’s most unequal countries, with extreme poverty and inequality rooted in colonial and apartheid oppression as well as the failure to improve the lives of millions of predominantly black people in the post apartheid period.
Yet it’s through the use of language of othering, scaremongering and securitisation — from “migrants are taking our jobs” to “foreigners are criminals” — that immigrants are blamed for many of SA’s woes and the regressive migration policies are facilitated.
According to the 2011 census, 75% of about 2-million international migrants who are based in SA are from Africa. More than 90% of the migrants are from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, with Zimbabwe and Mozambique contributing 46% and 27% of all international migrants respectively. The Statistics SA Community Survey 2016 puts the percentage of foreign-born population in SA at a mere 2.8%.
These numbers clearly show that the country is not flooded with foreign nationals. Evidence also shows that foreigners are not stealing jobs from South Africans.
As a relatively strong economy in the region, SA attracts economic migrants from the neighbouring countries and the rest of the continent. Unable to find legal ways to enter the country, many migrants see the asylum system as a way in.
The white paper proposes an SADC work visa that will help regulate economic migration in the region. This visa is likely to ease the pressure on the asylum system, allowing economic migrants a legal and regulated way into SA.
Despite this, the government plans to go all out in attacking the asylum system, introducing regressive and dehumanising policies and procedures aimed at making SA an unattractive destination for asylum seekers.
Many of the department’s proposed measures are not just ill-informed but will be grossly unconstitutional. While the department already often undermines the Constitution by flagrantly ignoring court orders and implementing cruel and unlawful policies, this will only get worse if the white paper proposals become the law.
The asylum seekers — people who have fled their countries due to conflict, political prosecution and other hardships and who have applied for recognition as refugees in SA — will be able to leave the detention centres only when they receive refugee status or are declined and deported.
One of the most controversial aspects of the white paper is the plan to establish asylum-seeker processing centres. These centres will be used for the detention of asylum seekers while their applications are being processed. The use of blanket detention of migrants as the primary way of managing migration is problematic in that it amounts to the criminalisation of the poor.
The proposals in the white paper that deal with the asylum system are regressive and likely to be in breach of the Constitution. As Lawyers for Human Rights has pointed out, the blanket detention provision is an “inherent violation of the right to human dignity” that will fail to “meet the requirements of proportionality under the limitations clause under section 36 of the Constitution”. Most disturbingly, the new policy will undoubtedly legalise the dehumanising practices experienced by migrants and asylum seekers, who frequently face mistreatment and corruption as they navigate the asylum process.
The asylum seekers — people who have fled their countries due to conflict, political prosecution and other hardships and who have applied for recognition as refugees in SA — will be able to leave the detention centres only when they receive refugee status or are declined and deported.
Asylum seekers wait for three to 15 years for their applications to be processed. Even if this time is halved, the government’s detention plans will be an enormous and expensive undertaking that will likely lead to corruption and abuse.
The department claims that the basic needs of asylum seekers will be catered for while in detention. It hopes to outsource the provision of services in the processing centres to international and national aid organisations.
However, it is unlikely anyone will be interested or have funding and capacity to take on this controversial burden.
Most likely, these processing centres will be outsourced to private companies to run, with the taxpayers footing the bill.
For years, international migrants have suffered in dehumanising and oppressive conditions at the Lindela Repatriation Centre, the management of which is outsourced to the private security company Bosasa. If Lindela is anything to go by, serious administrative failures, human rights violations, poor healthcare provision, impunity and the absence of functional oversight and accountability mechanisms in the proposed detention centres can be expected.
Asylum seekers are free to move within SA and reside where they choose while awaiting the processing of their applications for refugee status. They are also allowed to work or study. These rights were granted to them by the courts, which argued that the right to work is a critical element of respect for human dignity that also allows asylum seekers to sustain themselves. If the new immigration proposals are implemented, asylum seekers will have no right to education, work or freedom of movement.
The white paper does not mention what would happen to the children of the asylum seekers held in the processing centres. Will they be able to go to school? If so, where? Will the department build and staff schools in the processing centres? If not, denying basic education to the children of asylum seekers would be against the Constitution. The government is constitutionally bound to protect the interests of all children. In particular, section29 of the Constitution protects the right to basic education for all children — local and foreign — based in SA.
The white paper aims to limit the pull factors and discourage poor migrants and asylum seekers from embarking on a perilous journey across the border to SA. In this, SA is following the anti-immigrant trends of the US, much of Europe and Australia, closing itself to asylum seekers and economic migrants.
In Europe many governments are deliberately mistreating and degrading migrants and refugees “to make a point to anyone else considering the journey”. Just like Europe, SA plans to build “places of internment, spaces of relegation, a way to sideline people considered to be intruders, lacking valid permits, rendering them illegal, and ultimately undeserving of dignity”.
Through harsh treatment the department under Gigaba’s leadership wants to deter poor African migrants and asylum seekers from coming into the country. However, despite all this, the new policy framework is unlikely to stem migration from the continent.
As long as there are strong push factors such as violent conflict, political instability, repression, climate change and extreme poverty on the African continent, asylum seekers and economic migrants will continue to see SA as a place of safety where human rights and respect for human dignity are enshrined in the Constitution.
What the new policy will do is push many poor African migrants underground, making them vulnerable to all kinds of exploitation, while welcoming with open arms the rich and skilled and treating them humanely and with dignity.
As the ministers are shuffled every other month in the department, Gigaba might soon [again] be gone, but his antipoor and anti-African international migration vision will haunt SA for a long time.

We’re doing all we can to end long wait in Home Affairs queues – Gigaba

News24 – 23 July 2018
Minister says there are signs of progress in some areas
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba says his department is doing all it can to end the long wait in queues at their various branches across the country.
Gigaba was speaking at a media briefing in Pretoria about progress made in the department’s “War of Queues” campaign, which he launched in April to reduce the length of time spent waiting in queues at Home Affairs offices.
“It has been a slow start, but with signs of progress in some areas.”
Gigaba said the department would “modernise” at least nine additional offices, bringing the total number of offices with “live capture” to 193.
The department had also appointed IT company Dimension Data to assist in assessing the networks of the 184 live captures.
Live capturing is the electronic system used to capture information for both IDs and passports, and ensures that details are immediately verified from the local office, instead of going via head office, reducing waiting time by three to five days.
In April, Gigaba said that the department was also hoping to roll out its “e-homeaffairs” service at ABSA, FNB, Nedbank and Standard Bank over the next year.
On Monday, he said Investec and Discovery Bank had also came on board.
The banking partners had added five more sites and would have 25 more sites, covering Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, North West, Limpopo, Free State and Mpumalanga.
Gigaba said a monitoring tool had been developed to measure the average waiting time, from when a client received a ticket to when they received help.
“On average, it takes 25 to 30 minutes to issue a product to the client. This analysis necessitated a review of workflow process.
“This work includes a pilot to redesign the workflow, so that we can separate those collecting passports from the ones collecting smart ID cards.”
The pilot had been successfully conducted at the Pretoria and Cape Town offices, Gigaba said.
Full assessments had been conducted at the five offices that needed immediate action, namely: Alexandra and Soweto in Gauteng; East London in the Eastern Cape; and Pietermaritzburg and uMngeni in KwaZulu-Natal.
Implementation of the findings had started at the Alexandra and Soweto offices, he said.
Gigaba said power cuts were the biggest contributors to system downtime at many of their offices. Other problems related to the Telkom data line, as well as power management.
“We are hoping to get Saturday’s work back so that we can remain open.”

Home Affairs understaffed by 8000, says Gigaba

The Citizen 11-07-2018

At a press conference to announce upgrades to the Home Affairs system, the minister let slip that despite the high unemployment rate, the department was severely understaffed.
At a press conference where Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba and director-general Mkuseli Apleni announced a series of upgrades to the Home Affairs system, the minister said the department was understaffed by roughly 8 000 people.
This comes a day after The Citizen reported that despite the high unemployment rate in South Africa, some government departments and provincial governments were still failing to fill thousands of vacant posts.
This was revealed in the state of the public sector report released by the Public Service Commission (PSC) on Tuesday.
Gigaba today let slip the information about his department at today’s press conference meant for more positive news. It was intended for announcing upgrades to the Home Affairs system that would see the introduction of a paperless process for birth, marriage and death registration in a phased approach.
According to Apleni, by next year Home Affairs should be fully automated, and implementation will start rolling out.
Gigaba said the upgrades would entail interruption to ID and passport services between July 13 and 20, with different scheduled dates among the provinces.
The system upgrade will begin on Friday. Phase one includes the automation of birth certificates for children younger than a year. South Africans will no longer complete paper forms for birth registration.
Gigaba did, however, say written consent would still be required for children not travelling with parents.
The minister said a new system whereby the details of parents would be listed on their children’s passports would ensure these parents did not need to travel with unabridged birth certificates when travelling abroad – unless the country they are travelling to require this.
He added that since the departments did not have enough revenue to enact the desired upgrades and could not look to a cash-strapped government for help, Home Affairs had partnered with banks to make the changes possible.
He said measures would be put in place to ensure these banks were not granted access to any clients’ personal information.
Apleni was quick to point out that no staff would be impacted by the changes, with the current staff set to be reskilled.