News / 15 January 2019, 06:25am / Sibongile Mashaba and Makgotso Emegha
Johannesburg - Cellphone giant Vodacom insists that a settlement has been reached with its former employee Nkosana Makate, who invented the “Please Call Me” service.
The mobile network operator has received a backlash from subscribers and high-profile politicians, including Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi and Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, over the Makate saga.
In a statement on Monday, Vodacom spokesperson Byron Kennedy said: “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 (Shameel Joosub) deemed as reasonable compensation. Vodacom considers the matter as finally settled and closed.
“Vodacom can confirm that Mr Makate’s funds will be transferred as soon as we have the banking account details.”
He said Joosub met Makate’s legal representatives to “convey his decision and determination”.
“In line with the Constitutional Court order, Joosub was directed to determine the amount of reasonable compensation payable to Mr Kenneth Makate for the idea that led to the development of the Please Call Me product in the event of Vodacom and Makate’s negotiating teams failing to reach agreement on the quantum of such reasonable compensation.
“Joosub, in his judicially determined deadlock breaking role, received oral and written representations from both parties after the negotiations had deadlocked. Oral hearings were held from October 4 to 5,” Kennedy said.
However, Makate said on Monday that he was seeking legal advice on the matter.
“The issues are more complex than what Vodacom is putting out there. We are currently weighing the options that are available to us in dealing with the determination of the CEO.
“I am in consultation with my lawyers and we will announce soon as to which route we are going to take,” Makate told The Star.
Last week, following Vodacom’s announcement that it had settled the matter, Makate took to Facebook saying: “Vodacom to this day has not apologised for its despicable conduct, which was found by the Constitutional Court. This behaviour continues today with the CEO’s announcement that he has reached a determination on the settlement.” He said the offer was ridiculous and an insult.
In reaction, a supporter named Lesufi tweeted: “We need to stand by Nkosana “Please Call Me” Makate against this bully called @Vodacom, pay him by month end or face the wrath of the nation. How dare do you even disrespect court decisions... I’ve lost respect for your brand. You’re a disgrace and greedy.”
Ndabeni-Abrahams wrote: “Just shut up Vodacom and do the right thing. Don’t talk to us until you have reached a settlement with him and his team.”
Twitter users who subscribed to Vodacom have also pledged their support for Makate, with some saying they would cancel their contracts.
@Mzidlanga said: “Everyone using Vodacom; those who’s contracts come to an end now must cancel and boycott these thieves. You are welcome to join Telkom. They are cheaper than that these criminals.”
Former Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela said: “The story of how @Vodacom is stalling on giving a fair deal to Makate is shocking but not surprising. What’s worse is that such companies have Africans on their boards, who preach on the spirit of ubuntu while participating in robbing folks.”