There have been mixed reactions from political parties on the list of eight candidates nominated to replace Mogoeng Mogoeng as the next chief justice.
The position of the head of South Africa’s judiciary will become vacant on 11 October when Mogoeng’s term of office comes to an end.
The Presidency on Monday released the names of the candidates who met the criteria to be considered for the top post after President Cyril Ramaphosa, in an unprecedented move, called on South Africans to nominate their preferred candidates.
The list included Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe and Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane – who both face pending impeachment proceedings – as well as Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) President Mandisa Maya, Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga, Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo, advocate Alan Nelson and Dr Wallace Amos Mgoqi.
ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina said the candidates nominated were qualified for the job and their legal credentials spoke for themselves.
“In their totality, the eight candidates nominated for chief justice, they are very dignified South Africans from the jurist [sic] with a sound legal background. Their credentials are very clear,” Majodina told SABC News.
Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) MP Narend Singh raised concerns about the pending impeachment processes against Hlophe and Mkhwebane for alleged misconduct.
“We trust that those inquiries will be concluded sooner rather than later so that there is no prejudice either to the nominated candidates or to those that will be considering their nominations and interviews,” he said.
Cope supports Zondo for chief justice
The Congress of the People (Cope), on the other hand, made it clear that it supports Justice Zondo to take over from Mogoeng.
In a statement, Cope national spokesperson Dennis Bloem said Zondo had proven himself to be an honest and independent person with integrity.
“The mere fact that the Chief Justice Moegeng Moegeng appointed Deputy Chief Justice Ray Zondo to chair the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture in 2018 to investigate allegations of state capture and fraud, is a vote of confidence in the suitability of Justice Zondo to lead the apex court,” Bloem said.
“We don’t have any doubt that Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has excelled in the execution of his mandate. He has proved beyond reasonable doubt that the interest of the country comes first.
“He further proved that no amount of threats or intimidation will make him deviate from the rule of law and the Constitution.”
South Africans have until 15 October to submit in writing any objections they may have regarding the nominees to the nominations panel appointed by Ramaphosa in September.
The panel, chaired by Judge Navanethem Pillay, will consider objections before submitting a shortlist of three to five names to the president by 29 October.
Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe