JOHANNESBURG – Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has joined the heated saga between mobile network Vodacom and its former employee Nkosana Makate.
Makate, who invented the Please Call Me service while still an employee at Vodacom, has been involved in a long battle with his former employer involving the intellectual property of the service.
Last week, the saga again hit headlines when Makate denied claims by Vodacom that he’d been paid a settlement, as ordered by a court ruling.
“I haven’t reached any deal with Vodacom, I was dumped with some determination that the deal was done. We are reviewing that and we will be taking it up further.”
Vodacom, though, says that the group CEO Shameel Joosub has met with the legal representatives of Makate and Vodacom to convey his decision and determination as directed by the Constitutional Court order but that in the spirit of the confidentiality agreement both parties signed as part of the negotiating process, the amount set as reasonable compensation by Joosub will not be disclosed.
Over the weekend, Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza 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 #VodaPayHim.”
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 #VodaPayHim
— Panyaza Lesufi (@Lesufi) January 12, 2019
Just shut up Vodacom and do the right thing “Talk to Makate” instead of this poor PR stunt. Don’t talk to us until you have reached a settlement with him and his team.
— Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams (@Stellarated) January 14, 2019
Some on social media have questioned the appropriateness of the tweet, but the minister stands by it.
Minister, you do realise that regulating networks falls under you, nowadays? It’s not just about #PleaseCallMe. Nendaba yeData eDuru: sisephezu kwayo, Mphathiswa. Also: issuing an ‘instruction’ via Twitter – departmental process? I’ll listen on the radio (another area under you) https://t.co/1S0JfgzaXM
— Tando Ntunja (@tandontunja) January 14, 2019