Miss SA organisers accused of stealing paid voting system used in this year’s pageant
A Joburg-based technology company has accused the Miss SA organisation of stealing its idea of paid retail voting in this year’s pageant.
In June, Miss SA was met with criticism after the pageant announced its top 15 contenders and detailed how the public can vote using a new paid system.
Miss SA revealed that votes could be cast on the pageant’s website using a credit card or go to a money market counter at any Checkers, Checkers Hyper, Shoprite or Usave store and cast votes on the Computicket system.
Things Technologies chief executive and founder Mangi Tshikomba claims he was the brains behind the retail voting concept after he approached Miss SA chief executive Stephanie Weil in May with his “ProVote” idea.
In the email seen by The Star, dated May 29, 2020, sent by Tshikomba to Weil, he proposed the idea and stated that the Things Technologies’ model would generate the pageant R3.5 million from voting.
“Our model works great, because many people will be able to vote even without debit or credit cards. We have partnered with Nedbank and people will be able to load money into their voting wallet at all Nedbank branches, cash deposit at many major retail networks (PEP, Ackermans, Shoprite, Cambridge, Makro etc). This will mean that people in townships and rural areas can just walk into Shoprite and load money and vote for their preferred finalist,” Tshikomba wrote.
Weil responded on June 1 and Things Technologies later presented the idea to Miss SA and their auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers via a Zoom meeting on June 3.
“After my presentation, they just ignored me and I would follow-up on what’s going on and they would not respond… I was shocked when they announced the new voting model,” Tshikomba told The Star.
He further emphasised that the modus operandi of what his company presented was different from Miss SA’s paid voting system, however, he believed that the organisation stole the core idea for a retail voting system from his company.
In the letter of demand to Miss SA organisation, Tshikomba states that they used his concept, intellectual property with Computicket to his exclusion and without compensation.
Miss SA maintains that Things Technologies’ claim was baseless in fact and in law and labelled the company’s allegation as “an opportunistic attempt” to solicit payment from the pageant. Maintaining that it made no assurances to the company and that they had long-standing relationship with Computicket, Miss SA alleged that Things Technologies’ prior conduct was in bad faith and/or fraud.
“Following Ms Zozibini Tunzi’s win at Miss Universe, the organisation was notified that Mr Tshikomba registered the domain name zozitunzi.com with the intention to solicit payment for the sale of the domain name to the organisation or Miss Tunzi,” they wrote.
Tshikomba said the domain matter was unrelated to his idea.