JOHANNESBURG – Vodacom was at the centre of a social media storm on Monday after it said that it had reached a reasonable settlement amount for former employee Nkosana Makate for inventing the Please Call Me product.
Makate has been battling to get the telecoms company to compensate him for the Please Call Me product, which was commercialised in 2000, despite winning a Constitutional Court order three years ago.
Commenting on the Please Call Me matter, Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams told Vodacom on Twitter to “just shut up”.
Her comments followed Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi's Twitter comment that people must stand by “Nkosana ‘Please Call Me’ Makate” against “this bully called Vodacom”.
The company said on Saturday that chief executive Shameel Joosub had reached a settlement amount with Makate’s lawyers on a “reasonable compensation” for the Please Call Me product. It said Joosub received oral and written representations from both parties after the negotiations between the two parties had deadlocked. Oral hearings were held on October 4 and 5, 2018.
“The group chief executive has met with the legal representatives of Mr Makate and Vodacom to convey his decision and determination. In the spirit of the confidentiality agreement both parties signed as part of the negotiating process, Vodacom will not disclose the amount set by the group chief executive as reasonable compensation. Vodacom considers the matter as finally settled and closed,” the company said.
“Vodacom can confirm that Makate’s funds will be transferred as soon as we have the banking account details,” the company said. Makate said he had not agreed on a settlement with Vodacom. He told SAFM it was a lie.
“My legal representatives went to Vodacom last week on Wednesday as called by the chief executive, and they were given an envelope that contains the ruling or determination from the chief executive, with the determination. There is no agreement in any way with Vodacom,” said Makate.
He also said Joosub should have outlined that he wanted banking details. “We don't have a letter requesting banking details. Why would you go to the media to ask for details?” He also accused the company of lying.
“It is just PR, because of the statement they released. Vodacom has been running the ticket of reasonable compensation,” he said. The Constitutional Court ruled in April 2016 that the two parties should reach a consensus and negotiate how much Makate should be compensated.
Makate previously stated that Vodacom must pay him 15 cents from each rand of revenue that Please Call Me generated, which could exceed R10 billion. Vodacom previously offered Makate R10 million, claiming it was not able to calculate the revenue derived from the use of Please Call Me.