Vodacom [JSE:VOD] has asserted that its group CEO, Shameel Joosub, was not conflicted when he made a final offer of compensation to a former employee who proposed the Please Call Me service.
The mobile operator held a conference call with reporters on the matter on Friday. Nkosana Makate, the employee who presented the idea to Vodacom as far back as 2000, is seeking compensation for his idea.
The Constitutional Court in 2016 ruled that Vodacom compensate Makate, as was agreed. But there had been a deadlock in negotiations about the compensation amount, chief officer of legal and regulatory Nkateko Nyoka explained to reporters. That's when Joosub, as Vodacom's group CEO had to step in as a a deadlock-breaker.
Vodacom's understanding is that the deadlock-breaker's decision is final and legally binding, unless overturned by the courts. Makate will apply for a judicial review of Vodacom's offer. But Vodacom is yet to receive the application to know on which grounds the offer is being contested.
When asked if Joosub was truly independent in his role as a deadlock-breaker, Nyoka said he believed Joosub was not conflicted.
Joosub was excused from meetings where the Vodacom board and exco negotiated amounts to be paid to Makate, he said.
"From my perspective he was sensitive to his role as a deadlock-breaker; in many ways he acted in a bold manner and with courage.
"A number of people in Vodacom, the negotiating team, would say he was exceedingly generous," said Nyoka.
Vodacom closed its head offices in Midrand on Thursday, due to a protest arranged by the Please Call Me movement, which is demanding the mobile operator pay Makate R70bn.
Officials such as Gauteng MEC of Education Panyazi Lesufi, Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams and former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela have voiced their support of Makate on Twitter.