Communications minister tells Vodacom to ‘pay up’ in Please Call Me saga

South Africa’s Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has told Vodacom to “just shut up” on Twitter, commenting on the Please Call Me matter.

The statement came after Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said on Twitter that people must stand by “Nkosana ‘Please Call Me’ Makate” against “this bully called Vodacom”.

Makate, who is also known as Kenneth Makate, has been in negotiations with Vodacom for several years over the “reasonable compensation” he must receive for his part in launching the Please Call Me service on Vodacom’s network.

The Constitutional Court ruled that Makate must be compensated by Vodacom for his involvement in the “invention” of the Please Call Me.

Makate previously stated that Vodacom must pay him 15c of every rand of revenue that the Please Call Me generated, which could exceed R10 billion.

Vodacom reportedly offered Makate R10 million in 2018, which he refused.

Following a deadlock in the negotiations, Vodacom said last week that it was paying out reasonable compensation to Makate.

“Vodacom can confirm that the group CEO [Shameel Joosub] has met with the legal representatives to convey his decision and determination on reasonable compensation,” said Vodacom.

“In line with the Constitutional Court Order, the Vodacom Group Chief Executive Officer 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 Mr. Makate’s negotiating teams failing to reach agreement on the quantum of such reasonable compensation,” said Vodacom.

No deal

Makate has denied a deal was reached with Vodacom, however, and said: “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,” said Makate.

Following reports on the matter, Lesufi stated on Twitter than Makate must be protected from Vodacom and that the company must “pay him by the end of the month of face the wrath of the nation”.

“How dare you even disrespect court decisions,” said Lesufi.

Vodacom replied to Lesufi on Twitter and stated that a decision to pay Makate reasonable compensation has been made – based on the Constitutional Court order.

“Claims that Vodacom is disrespecting decisions of courts is false and ill-informed,” said Vodacom.

Ndabeni-Abrahams then replied to Vodacom’s tweet, telling it to “just shut up”.

“Do the right thing, talk to Makate instead of this poor PR stunt,” she said. “Don’t talk to us until you have reached a settlement with his team.”

Many Twitter users reacted negatively to the minister’s tweet, saying it was unnecessary and was not a how a government minister should conduct themselves.

Read: Vodacom pays ex-worker for `Please Call Me’ idea

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Communications minister tells Vodacom to ‘pay up’ in Please Call Me saga