Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has dismissed as a "poor PR stunt" cellphone company Vodacom's claim that it has finally settled a long-running claim against it – and told the company to "just shut up".
Vodacom last week said it had reach a decision on the "reasonable compensation" it will pay Kenneth Makate, the inventor of its hugely lucrative Please Call Me service.
Makate has previously estimated that Vodacom could owe him some R10 billion, while Vodacom apparently offered R10 million.
But instead of the matter going away, it turned into a renewed public perception disaster for Vodacom on Monday morning.
"Just shut up Vodacom and do the right thing “Talk to Makate” instead of this poor PR stunt," tweeted communications minister Ndabeni-Abrahams at the company. "Don’t talk to us until you have reached a settlement with him and his team."
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
She later apologised – if the tone of her message "offends or unsettles", and said she stands by her tweet.
Ndabeni-Abrahams was responding in a tweet thread started by influential Gauteng MEC Panyaza Lesufi's call for solidarity against the "bully" Vodacom.
Settlement negotiations between Makate and Vodacom have been tense since the Constitutional Court ruled the company must pay him, with Makate agreeing to a gag order in June.
On Friday Makate described the settlement amount determined by Vodacom – which has not been disclosed – as "shocking and an insult".
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