Minister tells Vodacom: ‘Shut up!’ But then shuts up herself.

JOHANNESBURG — When Cyril Ramaphosa announced that little-known Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams would become telecoms minister, there was largely a muted reply in media to her new promotion. That was understandable as little was known about her, despite the fact that she has served as deputy minister of telecommunications previously. But as she’s occupied her new post, SA is starting to get to know her a lot more. Apart from disrupting an SABC board that was tasked with sorting out the public broadcaster, she’s now recently turned to Twitter to tell Vodacom to “shut up” and pay up regarding a long-standing dispute the company has had with Kenneth Makate – a man who for years now has been claiming compensation for the ‘please call me’ idea. The ‘please call me’ dispute is a highly intricate, complicated and delicate compensation claim that has, for years, had a lot of back-and-forths. But Twitter offers little in the way of adding context to conversations and Ndabeni-Abrahams took to the platform in a blustering way to air her views, only to then delete her tweet. One needs to remember that Ndabneni-Abrahams is also the person who is chiefly responsible for ensuring that South Africa’s long-delayed digital migration process actually takes place –  the role she occupies is therefore vitally important and requires somebody with a cool head. – Gareth van Zyl

By Antony Sguazzin and Loni Prinsloo

(Bloomberg) – Fresh from prompting board members at the national broadcaster to resign, Cyril Ramaphosa’s new Telecommunications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams told Africa’s biggest mobile-network operator by market value to “shut up.”

Ndabeni-Abrahams, appointed to the post in late November, took to social media Monday and intervened in a dispute between Vodacom Group Ltd. and a former employee, Kenneth Makate, who was claiming compensation for developing a popular call-back service. While Vodacom says its followed court recommendations in trying to settle the dispute, the 40-year-old minister disagreed.

“Just shut up Vodacom and do the right thing,” she said on Twitter, before deleting the comment. “Talk to Makate instead of the poor PR stunt. Don’t talk to us until you have reached a settlement with him and his team.”

A logo sits on display outside the headquarters of Vodacom Group Ltd. in Johannesburg. Photographer: Dean Hutton/Bloomberg

As telecommunications minister Ndabeni-Abrahams oversees the industry in which Johannesburg-based Vodacom operates. She has already been criticised for causing the departure of several board members at the financially-strapped South African Broadcasting Corp. by demanding they stop job cuts.

Her spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment and neither did Vodacom.

Ndabeni-Abrahams is not the first Ramaphosa minister to cause controversy on Twitter. In December, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni faced a backlash for praising the cleanliness of Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, in comparison to shabby downtown Johannesburg. Twitter users retorted that his party was in charge of the city for more than 20 years and was therefore responsible.