Anybody that follows the MEC for Education in Gauteng, Panyaza Lesufi, on Twitter will know that the MEC has taken up the fight to get Vodacom to compensate Kenneth Nkosana Makate for his Please Call Me idea.
That fight has now taken a serious turn as Vodacom has sent the MEC and the leader of the Please Call Me Movement, Modise Setoaba, a cease and desist order.
The MEC shared screenshots of the order to his Twitter followers together with the challenge, “Bring it on Vodacom”.
Bring it on @Vodacom ! I am NOT easily intimidated. You can’t bully me or silence my support to the weak and vulnerable. This is a democratic country and I have the right to express my views without fear. The apartheid regime detained me without trial . I am not scared! pic.twitter.com/E62GnxFiJ8
— Panyaza Lesufi (@Lesufi) January 30, 2019
From what we can see of that letter (several pages have been omitted), Vodacom’s legal team is calling for Lesufi to desist from making false and defamatory comments concerning the case with Makate, desist from calling for the occupation of Vodacom stores and making threats about entering stores.
The Please Call Me Movement appears to be planning to protest at Vodacom’s Vodaworld store in Midrand, Gauteng on 31st January, the deadline the movement has set for the operator to pay Makate.
Makate was a Vodacom employee who came up with the idea to give folks without airtime a way to ask somebody to get in touch. When I was younger Please Call Mes were a way of life and almost vital to staying in touch when airtime was out of my budget.
Being able to claim that invention as his own has taken up a significant portion of the last decade (going on two) but Makate had a victory in 2016. The Constitutional Court ruled that Vodacom must initiate negotiations in good faith to determine reasonable compensation.
Those negotiations have been going on since then but earlier this year it was revealed that Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub had made Makate an offer. While that seemed like good news, Makate refuted reports that he had agreed to the offer.
“The amount that the CEO has determined is shocking and an insult. I am currently being advised by my legal team on remedies available to me. Moreover, Vodacom has not apologized for their despicable conduct for the past 18 years as found by the Constitutional Court,” Makate said in a statement on Facebook.
The Please Call Me Movement has said that Makate is owed R70 billion.
We must also point out that Lesufi is not in this fight alone. The MEC has garnered a significant amount of support on social media for this cause and whether you side with Makate or not the fact that so many folks are united against a big corporation is something incredible to behold.
Whether protest action will take place at Vodaworld on Thursday remains to be seen.