NATIONAL NEWS - Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams appears to have deleted a tweet in which she told Vodacom to “shut up”, accusing the mobile operator of a “poor PR stunt” related to its “settlement” with former employee Nkosana Makate.
TalkCentral reported on Monday morning that the minister had taken to Twitter to lay into Vodacom’s “settlement” with Nkosana, who claims to have invented the “please call me” service.
“Please Call Me” allows Vodacom customers to send a free text message requesting a call back from another party.
“Just shut up Vodacom and do the right thing,” Ndabeni-Abrahams tweeted.”‘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.”
Despite attempting to justify the tweet by responding to users’ criticism of it, it appears the minister eventually decided to delete the message instead. By mid-afternoon on Monday, Twitter reported the tweet as “unavailable”, though her responses to other users remain on the social media site.
Twitter user Tando Ntjuna responded to the (now-deleted) tweet, saying the minister’s tone was “inappropriate” for a cabinet minister and “as the political principle (sic) for telecommunications in SA, the changes in the sector are literally YOUR responsibility now”. Ndabeni-Abrahams responded: “I again apologies (sic) that I used a tone that you do not like.”
‘Stand by Nkosana’
The minister’s original tweet was in response to a Vodacom reply on Twitter to a tweet from Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi. Lesufi tweeted on Saturday: “We need to stand by Nkosana ‘Please Call Me’ against this bully called @Vodacom.”
Lesufi continued: “Pay him by month end or face the wrath of the nation. How dare you even disrespect court decisions #VodaPayHim.”
Vodacom’s official Twitter account then replied to Lesufi: “A decision on reasonable compensation payable to Mr Makate, based on the Con Court Order, was recently made by Vodacom Group CEO. This decision has been communicated to Mr Makate and his attorneys. Claims that Vodacom is disrespecting decision of courts is false & ill-informed.”
This response then prompted Ndabeni-Abrahams’ angry reply.
On Saturday, TechCentral reported that Makate had rejected a settlement tabled by Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub, describing the amount offered by the operator as “shocking and an insult”.
Posting on his Facebook page after Vodacom revealed on Friday evening that it had settled the dispute by agreeing to “reasonable compensation”, Makate said: “I would like to make it very clear that I have not agreed anything with Vodacom. The amount that the CEO has determined is shocking and an insult.”
Makate continued: “I am currently being advised by my legal team on remedies available to me. Moreover, Vodacom has not apologised for their despicable conduct for the past 18 years as found by the constitutional court.”
After a lengthy and costly legal battle, the constitutional court found that Makate had invented the service while in the employ of Vodacom and directed the company’s CEO — currently Joosub — to determine an amount of “reasonable compensation” that should be paid to Makate should the parties be unable to reach an agreement.
Vodacom said that Joosub received oral and written representations from both parties after the negotiations deadlocked, with oral hearing taking place in early October 2018.
“The group CEO has met with the legal representatives of Mr Makate and Vodacom to convey his decision and determination. 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 CEO, as reasonable compensation. Vodacom considers the matter as finally settled and closed,” Vodacom said.
It added that the compensation amount determined by Joosub will be transferred to Makate “as soon as we have the banking account details”.