Vodacom ‘Please Call Me’ settlement offer ‘an insult’ – Makate

Nkosana Makate, the former Vodacom employee who came up with the concept behind the widely-used ‘Please Call Me’ phone service, has rejected the mobile operator’s claims that a settlement agreement had been reached between him and the company.

In April 2016, the Constitutional Court ordered that Vodacom “commence negotiations in good faith with Mr Kenneth Nkosana Makate for determining a reasonable compensation.”

The court also ordered that Vodacom’s CEO be the one who determines the amount “within a reasonable time” in the event that the two parties fail to reach a deal.

But in a recent Facebook post, Makate described the offer that he was given by Vodacom’s CEO Shameel Joosub as “shocking and an insult”, writing that he is currently consulting his legal team to determine a way forward. He further expressed that Vodacom “has not apologised for their despicable conduct for the past 18 years.”

Vodacom, in a statement, said that Joosub “in his judicially determined deadlock breaking role, received oral and written representations from both parties after the negotiations between the two parties had deadlocked.”

According to the statement, the CEO met with Makate’s legal team “to convey his decision and determination” and both parties signed a confidentiality agreement which impedes Vodacom from disclosing the amount set by the CEO.

Vodacom said Makate’s funds will be transferred to him as soon as he provides his banking details.

“Vodacom considers the matter as finally settled and closed,” the statement reads.

Makate invented the “Please Call Me” service in 2000, while employed as a trainee accountant by Vodacom. The idea was borne from the inconvenience of his long distance girlfriend not being able to contact him when she had run out of airtime.

He has been negotiating with Vodacom for several years in an attempt to get “reasonable compensation” for the service.

After initial negotiations, the parties reached an oral agreement. Vodacom would use Makate’s idea which would be tested in a trial, and Makate would be paid a share in the revenue that his product generated if the product was successful. Makate originally indicated that he wanted 15% of the revenue, but negotiations on the amount were deferred to a later date.

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