President Cyril Ramaphosa’s invitation for public nominations for the next chief justice of the country has been met with cynicism by some, while others have commended the unprecedented move.
The term of the current chief justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng, comes to an end on 11 October.
In a statement on Thursday, the president said the invitation for public participation was meant to promote transparency.
Section 174(3) of the Constitution empowers the president to appoint the next chief justice after consulting the Judicial Service Commission and the leaders of political parties represented in the National Assembly.
In terms of the Constitution, the chief justice is “the head of the judiciary and exercises responsibility over the establishment and monitoring of norms and standards for the exercise of the judicial functions of all courts”.
The chief justice is responsible for leading the creation of jurisprudence as they preside over proceedings of the Constitutional Court. They are also responsible for setting and overseeing the maintenance of the standards for the exercise of the judicial functions of our courts, and chairing the Judicial Service Commission.
South Africans took to social media to voice their opinion on the matter, while some even put names in the hat for the top position.
According to the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Ramaphosa’s process is flawed because of his choice of members of the panel.
Half of the panel consists of Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola, former minister of justice Jeff Radebe, and former public protector Adv. Thuli Madonsela.
“What would appear as an unprecedented noble call for public participation is now marred by the inclusion of questionable characters that Ramaphosa has chosen to preside over the shortlisting process. His choice of those in close proximity to the Stellenbosch mafia and apologist of white monopoly capital for the selection team is a clear indication that funders of his ascendancy to the high office will capture the judiciary by proxy,” said the party in a statement.
“All senior judicial officer aspirants have subjected themselves to the rigorous and robust process at the JSC. This incoming chief justice cannot be an exception should Ramaphosa make this selection process a public participation. The composition of the panel smacks of nepotism and disbursing of patronage for a predetermined outcome.”
These were some of the reactions on social media: