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By Vukosi Maluleke

Digital Journalist

Creating jobs or ‘electioneering’? – analyst warns of speed bumps in Lesufi’s food delivery plans

Everybody gets a food delivery scooter! Lesufi goes Oprah on Gauteng youth

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi launched the 10 000 Last-Mile Delivery Opportunities initiative on Friday to drive economic growth, but an analyst has reservations.

A collaborative effort between Gauteng’s Department of Economic Development and Uber Eats – the project is geared towards creating 10 000 job opportunities in the food delivery sector for unemployed youth in the province.

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6 000 jobs, or nothing

Uber Eats general manager, Nakampe Molewa said the company is proud to partner with the department to address issues of unemployment in the province.

“We find ourselves in a very enviable position of collaborating with a government that has a grand vision for Gauteng – 10 000 economic opportunities over [the next] three years,” said Molewa

Lesufi said he’s on a ministerial mission to create jobs.

“The government will release 6 000 new jobs every month until July 2024,” Lesufi promised youth at the launch.

He also issued a stern warning to Gauteng MECs: “If you can’t create 6 000 jobs, that’s the end of being a MEC,”

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‘All part of electioneering’

Independent economist, Prof. Bonke Dumisa, said Lesufi’s initiative is overly ambitious and “all part of electioneering.”

Dumisa- who previously told The Citizen he believed the role of government is not to create jobs, but to foster a conducive environment for businesses to prosper – said his stance remained unchanged.

Warning against becoming a “nanny state,” where those in power believe they can do “everything for citizens,” Dumisa said government shouldn’t forget its role in the economy.

As an alternative, the expert suggested introducing a tax-incentive to encourage businesses that rely on delivery services, to prioritise South African scooter drivers over their foreign counterparts.

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Public-private partnerships

When it comes to public-private sector collaborations, Dumisa said they’re “excellent” across various industries.

Molewa said Uber Eats is honored to partner with Gauteng’s Economic Development, especially since governments and businesses tend to have “an adversarial relationship.”

“What makes this unique is we have a government solely focused on inviting business to come in and help us to sort the unemployment problem,” he said.

“We’re here to [play] our part in addressing the scourge of unemployment,” he added.

Reflecting on his tenure as CEO of Durban’s Chamber of Commerce, Dumisa said the model was doing “wonders” for eThekwini’s economy.

He attributed the success of such partnerships to strategic pairing of businesses and relevant government departments.

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Emphasising the need for anti-corrupt practices, Dumisa used KwaZulu-Natal’s garbage collection as an example, saying it was well-intended with inclusion of small businesses but corruption got in the way.

The economist also said nurturing public-private partnerships without corruption leads to a thriving economy.

The Road map

Molewa said the intiative is primarily focused on bringing the digital economy to “eKasi” (the township) through a number of programmes.

  • Onboarding and bringing technological services worth R200m over the next three years – including merchant onboarding in the township economy – providing hardware and training to merchants as well as support preferential pricing for these economies.
  • Exposure of township restaurants to over half a million online customers – “that opportunity alone is worth over R600m in the township over three years.”
  • Helping with the “Last-Mile” delivery – for alcohol, food and pharmaceutical traders.

“Once you’ve trained and got the bike, we’re going to onboard you onto our platform – and make you part of our business,” said Molewa.

ALSO READ: E-hailing taxis on edge in Soweto

10 000 too many?

Dumisa warned against the possible dangers of an over-saturated market.

“If supply exceeds demand, prices decline,” he said, adding service providers are then likely to make less money.  

“This is basic economics 101”.

Cautioning against a possible surplus in scooter delivery sector, Dumisa said “this is what led to a volatile and dangerous taxi industry.”

“There will be casualties”.

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