Vodacom cannot pay the “inventor” of the “please call me” service, Nkosana Makate, more money because the outcome of a deadlock-breaking mechanism between the parties is legally binding, the telecommunications group’s chief officer for legal and regulatory affairs, Nkateko Nyoka, said on Friday.
Answering a question from TechCentral on a call with journalists on Friday, Nyoka said: “The possibility of amending the offer does not exist.”
He explained that the constitutional court judgment required both parties to enter into good-faith negotiations to determine reasonable compensation but that if they could not agree, which they could not, then a deadlock-breaking mechanism would come into effect. Vodacom’s CEO, Shameel Joosub, would then be required to determine reasonable compensation for Makate.
“If any possibility existed of changing the number, that should have played out in the negotiation,” Nyoka said. “Once there was a deadlock, and the deadlock-breaking mechanism was invoked, the number that was determined by the deadlock breaker (Joosub) is final and legally binding unless overturned by the courts.”
Nyoka said Vodacom understands Makate intends to approach the courts over the settlement amount — which he, Makate, described as an “insult” — though the operator has not yet seen any legal papers in this regard. He could not say whether Makate intended petitioning the constitutional court or filing fresh papers at the high court.
Earlier this week, Chris Schoeman, Makate’s former “litigation funder”, said in a radio interview that Vodacom had tabled a final settlement amount of R49-million. Nyoka declined to confirm this, saying both parties are bound by confidentiality. But he did say on Friday’s call with journalists that the settlement amount was well over R10-million.
“I think (the R49-million) is overly generous,” Schoeman said in an interview with Gauteng station Radio 702. “It’s very generous and, in fact, I have an interest in that award and yesterday I instructed my attorneys to write to his attorneys to say, first of all, you should accept the offer (as) you do not have legally a basis for refusing it, and in any event, some of that belongs to me. And you must accept it. It is a generous offer.”
Turning to fierce criticism of Vodacom by Gauteng basic education MEC Panyaza Lesufi and a strongly worded tweet in support of Makate by communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, Takalani Netshitenzhe, chief officer for corporate affairs at Vodacom, said: “I think it is important to point out here that the minister of communications and the MEC for education … are key stakeholders. We have very good relationships with both.”
Netshitenzhe said comments from them attacking Vodacom “were made in the heat of the moment”.
On 14 January, Ndabeni-Abrahams slammed Vodacom on Twitter, telling the company to “just shut up” and “do the right thing” regarding Makate. She later deleted the tweet.
“In the spirit of continuing our good relationship, we are continuing to engage with them (Ndabeni-Abrahams and Lesufi),” Netshitenzhe said on Friday.
“We will be meeting the minister of communications next week during the Sona (state of the nation address) week to discuss policy issues, and if this issue is put on the table we will be able to respond in a manner in which we are engaging with all the stakeholders.” — © 2019 NewsCentral Media