Vodacom has made a settlement offer to Please Call Me inventor Nkosana Makate, according to a report by the Sunday Times.
A previous report from the Sunday Times stated that talks between Vodacom and Makate were taking place, but the parties were not any closer to reaching an agreement.
This prompted Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub to get involved to resolve the issue, which has been dragging on for years.
The Sunday Times has now reported that Vodacom offered Makate R10 million, which has been described as a “pittance”.
The amount is said to be less than Makate’s legal fees for his decade-long battle with the operator.
Makate’s disclosure of the R10-million offer was made in complaints he filed with the Independent Regulatory Board of Auditors and the Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission against Vodacom and its auditor PwC.
The complaint was for alleged “reckless management and misrepresentation of annual financial statements”, stated the report.
MyBroadband asked Vodacom whether it made an offer to Makate as reported by the Sunday Times, but the company declined to comment.
It said Makate and his negotiating team signed a confidentiality agreement with Vodacom at the start of negotiations.
“Vodacom remains committed to upholding its end of the confidentiality agreement,” it said.
Sources in the company, however, told MyBroadband an actual offer will look very different from the “inflated figures” quoted in the media.
Protracted legal process
The offer follows a Constitutional Court ruling in favour of Makate in April 2016 after a protracted legal battle.
Makate was fighting Vodacom in a bid to get additional compensation for his “invention”, which he says he was promised by the company.
He filed papers in the Constitutional Court in 2015 after the South Gauteng High Court dismissed his case against Vodacom, with costs.
According to Makate, his boss Philip Geissler promised to facilitate remuneration negotiations with the company.
Vodacom argued that the rights to anything developed or produced by its employees belong to the company.
Makate disputed this, arguing the idea fell outside of his normal duties at Vodacom.
Vodacom also said that Geissler did not have the right to promise Makate anything on behalf of the company.
Vodacom argued there is a difference between an idea and a working product. The final product, which uses a USSD and SMS system with advertising, may therefore not be what Makate envisaged.
After the 2016 ruling, Vodacom initiated discussions between the parties in accordance with the Constitutional Court order.
The negotiations between Makate and Vodacom have been hampered by multiple factors, including infighting between Makate, his legal team, and his financial backers.