Gungubele tells EFF govt won’t get involved in Vodacom vs Makate’s Please Call Me saga

‘Please Call Me’ inventor Nkosana Makate and Vodacom. Picture:Simphiwe Mbokazi/Independent Newspapers

‘Please Call Me’ inventor Nkosana Makate and Vodacom. Picture:Simphiwe Mbokazi/Independent Newspapers

Published May 3, 2024


Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Mondli Gungubele says government will not get involved in the legal tussle between the Please Call Me inventor Nkosana Makate and Vodacom.

The minister revealed this in a parliamentary reply to the Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) Sinawo Tambo who had asked the minister if the government had explored the veracity of Vodacom’s claims that paying Makate would affect the company’s contribution to public finances.

Makate and Vodacom have been in a legal tussle worth billions for years over the Please Call Me idea.

Gungubele categorically stated the department does not involve itself in the operations of private companies.

“The department does not involve itself in the operations of companies, in regard to intellectual property issues among a myriad of other matters, be they traded or publicly listed.

“The company therefore has a fiduciary duty to comply with all financial, legal and regulatory obligations in regard to its contributions to the fiscus,” the minister said.

Tambo also called on the minister to explain what role the department played in protecting creatives like Makate from corporate exploitation.

Gungubele said that protecting creatives does not fall within its mandate and levied the issue and responsibility to the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition.

Makate vs Vodacom

The legal tussle between Makate and Vodacom is expected to be resolved in the Constitutional Court if Vodacom and Makate fail to reach an out of court settlement.

In March, Makate said that he had agreed to meet with Vodacom after the Supreme Court of Appeals ruled in his favour in terms of being compensated for the Please Call Me idea.

Vodacom had approached the Constitutional Court seeking it to overturn the SCA ruling, which ordered the telecommunications company to pay Makate between 5% and 7.5% of the total revenue generated by the Please Call Me service that was derived from the prepaid or contract offerings from March 2001 to March 2021 (18 years), including interest.

According to reports, that figure could be in excess of R20 billion.

Vodacom said that the impact of the SCA Please Call Me judgment could be vast and wide-ranging on both Vodacom South Africa and the Vodacom Group.

Vodacom argued that if the SCA judgement was upheld it would hurt their staff, shareholders and Vodacom’s contribution to public finances.

The company said it would also have an impact on their network investment, coverage and social programmes. The telecoms giant said the judgment would also impact South Africa’s attractiveness as an investment destination.