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Angels or demons? Politics in the air as Victoria’s Secret show hits China
20 November 2017, 7:44 PM

Victoria’s Secret’s glitzy annual fashion show hit the stage in China for the first time on Monday, though without several of its “Angels” and star names who had been expected to attend, including model Gigi Hadid and pop singer Katy Perry.

At a packed Shanghai stadium, British singer Harry Styles opened a 45-minute show of singers, dancers and lighting theatrics – along with a line-up of models sporting the brand’s flamboyant and racy lingerie.

The run-up to the show, however, was dominated by Hadid’s withdrawal and reports about visas being denied over political sensitivities – a headache for the underwear brand as it looks to grow in China.

Perry and Hadid have both drawn criticism in China. At a2015 concert, Perry appeared to show support for Taiwan, a self-governed island that China considers a wayward province yet an integral part of its territory.

The issue has underscored a dilemma for global brands, sports franchises, moviemakers and performers looking to tap China’s big-spending consumers while keeping on the right side of often stringent rules about content and behavior.

“Brands have to be much more aware of politically or morally sensitive topics here,” said Ben Cavender, Shanghai-based principal at China Market Research Group, adding the lure of the market meant most people would nevertheless take risks.

“It’s a very different political environment than their home markets and we’re at a time when China is on a drive to clean up behaviour and push a sort of moral code.”

China has long kept tight control of performers it allows into the country. Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Bjork and Bon Joviare all banned over perceived bad behaviour or for broaching sensitive topics like Tibet or Taiwan.

“PAYBACK”

Under President Xi Jinping, a push to reinforce socialist “core values” in cultural products from video games to music shows has also meant firms like game developer NetEase Incand the producers of the Grammy Awards have had to clean up their offerings.

Hadid tweeted last week that she was no longer attending Monday’s show. That followed a video posted online of her squinting her eyes while holding a small Buddha statue, which went down badly in China.

U.S. media reports said Perry was denied a visa due to her support for Taiwan. At her 2015 show, she draped a flag of the democratic island around her shoulders.

The Global Times, an influential state-run Chinese tabloid, wrote in an editorial ahead of the show that it was “logical “the two had been denied visas due to their past actions.

“Payback was unavoidable,” it said. “Those who are serious about developing careers in the Chinese market can draw lessons from this case and learn to abide by the rules in China.”

Victoria’s Secret did not respond to requests for comment.

Asked whether or why Hadid and Perry had been banned from coming to China, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said he did not know the details of the situation, but that China welcomed foreigners for “normal” business, tourism and cultural activities and issues visas to those who meet its conditions.

“But, at the same time, I want to say that like all other countries, China as a sovereign state has the right to decide itself in accordance with its laws and policies whether or not to issue papers to foreign citizens,” Lu added.

Reuters could not reach Hadid for comment. Perry did not respond to a request for comment.

AFTER-PARTY?

The show, held in Paris last year, blends fashion, fantasy and entertainment, and has featured scores of supermodels, celebrities and musicians since its inception in 1996.

Its China outing could help Victoria’s Secret tap a domestic women’s underwear market forecast to be worth $33 billion by2020, according to Euromonitor. The brand opened its first mainland China store in Shanghai this year.

For the Shanghai show, guests went though government vetting, and faced tight security on the door with facial recognition scans and passport checks.

The absence of some stars didn’t go unmentioned.

“It was unfortunate that the other models couldn’t make it, but they were there with us in spirit,” model Herieth Paul told Reuters TV on the “pink carpet” after the show.

But most fans at the event didn’t seem put off by the snaking queues, visa issues, or a chilly Shanghai night.

“It was fabulous and fantastic,” Monica Chen, 22, told Reuters. “Now I’m looking for the after-party.”

 

Businesses remain an important asset in SA’s economy: BLSA
20 November 2017, 7:42 PM

Businesses remain the most significant direct contributor to the South African economy and employs 6,9 times the number of public sector employees. This is according to a report released  by Quantec on Monday.

The study was commissioned by Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) to better understand the national footprint of its members. 57 of BLSA’s 73 large and multi-national companies participated in the study. BLSA says the study clearly shows that businesses are not in an investment strike.

The study shows that the direct output created by BLSA members alone was R1.9 trillion in 2016. While one trillion of BLSA big businesses paid to supplies to support small entrepreneur’s in the supply chain.

CEO of BLSA Bonang Mohale says the report shows that businesses remain an important asset to the South African economy and the narrative that it is not investing is not true.

“You have a government that looks at business as the enemy and calls it white monopoly capital. So Quantec research was asked to conduct imperial research so that we don’t speak like politicians but we speak with facts. So it was about quantifying our member’s activities and their contribution to the GDP.  Big business supports small business in the enterprise supply chain, enabling them to pay people to pay taxes. BLSA collectively received 34.4 points out of the 40 points component that talks about enterprise and supply development.”

Mohale says big business also contributed significantly to job creation last year and spent almost ten billion on training and skills development.

“These 57 BLSA members employ 1.3 million people with another almost 2 million jobs supported in the supply chain. 597 000 people are dependent on these BLSA employees. So these companies contribute about 24% of private sector employment and pay full time and part time employees just under R2 trillion.”

BLSA says it will continue to engage with government and the top six of the African National Congress (ANC) to show that businesses are willing to do more to encourage inclusive economic growth. Mohale says government must create the economic and policy conditions necessary for growth to occur.

“When the minister of finance was appointed we met with him as business in general we heavily invested in this country and we care that is why our campaign believes in this country. The president is the one who decided to disappoint all of us by being the one who disrupts this business, labour and government unity.  First by charging a seating minister of finance and then secondly the events when we witnessed the most wholesale cabinet reshuffle this country has ever witnessed.”

BLSA is an independent association whose members include the leaders of some of South Africa’s biggest and most well knows organisations. Taxation to government from its members amounted to over R431 million last year -36% of total taxes collected.

Members also contributed 36% of the total domestic output in 2016. BLSA says its members remain committed to investing and job creation in the country.

 

Zuma not fit to appoint NPA head: Lawyer
20 November 2017, 5:53 PM

Two Senior Counsellors advocates Wim Trengove and Matthews Chaskalson are representing Freedom Under Law and Corruption Watch in the former NDPP Mxolisi Nxasana case before the High Court in Pretoria.

Nxasana approached the court wanting to be reinstated to his position as the boss of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), while the civil organisation are challenging President Jacob Zuma’s decision to fire Nxasana who was handed R17-million golden hand shake.

In his main arguments Trengove told the court that because of his outstanding and pending criminal cases against President, Zuma is not fit to appoint the NPA head.

The court has side aside three days to hear the Nxasana application.

German president urges parties to compromise, end crisis
20 November 2017, 5:17 PM

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged political parties Monday to rethink their positions and find compromises to form a government, hours after coalition talks collapsed and plunged Germany into a crisis.

“Building a government has always been a difficult process of give and take, but the mandate to form a government is perhaps the highest mandate given by voters to a party in a democracy. And this mandate remains,” said Steinmeier.

“This is the moment where all participants need to reconsider their attitude,” he added.

Germany’s president has the power to call snap elections, but Steinmeier made clear that this was not his favoured option.

“I expect all parties to make themselves available for talks to build a government in the foreseeable future,” he said.

Steinmeier said he would hold talks with leaders of the parties involved in the failed coalition negotiations Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU conservative alliance, the Greens, and the pro-business FDP, who ended the negotiations.

He would also speak with “chairs of parties which have programme overlaps that do not rule out forming a government”, a reference to the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD).

The SPD, after suffering a humiliating thrashing at September’s polls, has repeatedly said its place is in opposition rather than to renew an alliance as junior coalition partner under Merkel.

Minutes before Steinmeier’s statement, SPD chairman Martin Schulz had reiterated that his party was “not available to form a new grand coalition” with Merkel’s conservative bloc.

Mpumalanga Health Dept to build a multi-million rand health centre
20 November 2017, 4:04 PM

The Mpumalanga Health Department has set aside R51 million for the construction of a Community Health Centre in Oakley near Mkhuhlu in Hazyview.

The Department says the area has been struggling with properly health facilities.

“The construction of the CHC on the tune of R51 million considering the professional fees the CHC will be R63 million, we are building ideal clinic that will meet all requirements, the clinic of Oakley was not performing very well because it was a very small clinic and it can’t meet all the six priorities areas, the project is expected to take 12 months from now – which means the clinic would be completed next year around November beginning of December,” says Mpumalanga’s Health MEC Gillion Mashego.

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