Zondo enjoys shooting himself in the foot
I am not saying jurists do not and should not have political views, all I'm saying is that their jobs require their absolute neutrality, at least in the public eye.
Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. Photo: Gallo Images
It seems Chief Justice Raymond Zondo enjoys tripping himself both in terms of his personal reputation and image.
Not too long ago, he administered the Oath of Office on Zizi Kodwa, a person whose integrity and reputation he questioned during the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, which he chaired.
At the time, he even went further to say Kodwa should not be trusted with positions of authority, responsibility and power. But Zondo was the one who actually gave Kodwa his stamp of approval by administering the Oath of Office for him as a Cabinet minister.
An endorsement which essentially gives Kodwa authority, responsibility and power. As if that was not enough, our learned chief justice was invited to deliver the OR Tambo memorial lecture by the University of Fort Hare, and he gladly accepted.
The theme of the lecture was “justice, democracy and the rule of law”.
It is said judges, by virtue of their responsibility and adjudicators over matters of public interests, the public which comes from diverse political persuasions, are “discouraged” from participating in political gatherings, specifically, party political ones.
I agree with this.
The mere mention of the name, OR Tambo, is in itself, a political topic. A memorial lecture in his name cannot possibly be apolitical. I expected our esteemed jurist to have been aware of this fact and its possible political implications before accepting such an invitation.
I am not saying jurists do not and should not have political views. All I’m saying is that their jobs require their absolute neutrality, at least in the public eye.
As I listened to his lecture, my observation was sadly that it dealt with two issues in the main – his commission report and former president Jacob Zuma.
Tambo was mentioned very sparingly.
He dwelled on how Zuma and the Guptas brought this country to its knees. There is nothing wrong with that, but it becomes a problem when it is said by the judge who presided over the commission.
It becomes a problem because the report itself is up for judicial review by many who are implicated in it.
Zondo has now clearly opened himself to relentless criticism, particularly from those who argued that he had something against Zuma – and now the Zondo commission report risks losing its credibility as well.