South Africa’s Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has deleted a tweet where she told Vodacom to “just shut up”.
The tweet followed a public dispute between Vodacom and Please Call Me “inventor” Kenneth Makate.
Makate has been in negotiations with Vodacom for several years over the “reasonable compensation” he must receive for his part in launching the Please Call Me service on Vodacom’s network.
The Constitutional Court ruled that Makate must be compensated by Vodacom.
Following a deadlock in negotiations, Vodacom said last week that it was paying out reasonable compensation to Makate.
Makate denied a deal was reached with Vodacom, however, and said: “I haven’t reached any deal with Vodacom, I was dumped with some determination that the deal was done.”
This set of events led to Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi to say on Twitter that people must stand by “Nkosana ‘Please Call Me’ Makate” against “this bully called Vodacom”.
Lesufi stated than Makate must be protected from Vodacom and that the company must “pay him by the end of the month of face the wrath of the nation”.
Vodacom replied to Lesufi on Twitter and stated that a decision to pay Makate reasonable compensation has been made – based on the Constitutional Court order.
“Claims that Vodacom is disrespecting decisions of courts is false and ill-informed,” said Vodacom.
Vodacom’s statement was replied to by Ndabeni-Abrahams on Twitter, where she stated the company must “just shut up”.
“Do the right thing, talk to Makate instead of this poor PR stunt,” she said.
“Don’t talk to us until you have reached a settlement with his team.”
Many Twitter users reacted negatively to the minister’s tweet, saying it was unnecessary and was not a how a government minister should conduct themselves.
While Ndabeni-Abrahams initially defended her tweet, telling Twitter users she is allowed to engage with companies that fall under her department’s jurisdiction on social media platforms, her tweet telling Vodacom to shut up was deleted from her account within hours.
A screenshot of the deleted tweet is shown below.
MyBroadband contacted the department of communications for comment on the matter, and asked if the deleting of the tweet indicated the minister retracted her statement, but it did not reply to questions.