The Presidency has released a list of eight candidates vying for the position of chief justice, as the incumbent Mogoeng Mogoeng’s term draws to an end.
The final list of candidates was released on Monday, following a process that began on 16 September 2021 after President Cyril Ramaphosa called on South Africans to nominate suitably qualified candidates for “the critical position as head of the Judiciary of South Africa”.
Ramaphosa said this was to promote transparency and encourage public participation, as South Africans should take part in choosing their next chief justice.
“In response to the call for public participation, the public made 148 submissions which consisted of 25 names,” reads Monday’s statement.
“Some of these individuals featured in more than one submission. Of the 25 names, only 8 nominations met the criteria as set out in the call by the president.
“The nominations panel which is chaired by Judge Navanethem [Navi] Pillay assessed and scrutinised all submissions.”
The eight names that qualified for nomination as set out in the criteria are, in alphabetical order:
- Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe
- Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga
- Justice Mandisa Maya
- Dr Wallace Amos Mgoqi
- Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane
- Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo
- Advocate Alan Nelson, SC
- Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo
“The panel will consider objections before submitting a shortlist of three to five names to the president. The panel is required to report to the president by Friday, 29 October 2021 and its Terms of Reference are also available on the Presidency website,” explained the statement.
Ramaphosa’s approach of the process was met cynicism by some, while others commended the unprecedented move.
Speaking during a media briefing at the Luthuli House last week, Ramaphosa defended the chief justice selection process.
“Yes, we are going to have a chief justice. What I sought do with the chief justice position is exactly what I did with the appointment of the NDPP [national director of public prosecutions]. I did exactly the same thing. I chose a panel, they interviewed [candidates], they gave me names and I then appointed.
“The panel will come up with names and those names are then given to me rather than me to have chosen [someone] from nowhere as the next chief justice. I am departing from that.
“I am saying, let a panel do that initial process. I will then take the names to the Judicial Service Commission [JSC] and they will then do the interviewing and having done so, in the end the Constitution empowers me as the president to make a choice of a chief justice.
“I have not outsourced that, anything, in fact if you like I have in-sourced the process of selection and have asked people to come up with a list,” Ramaphosa said.
eNCA earlier reported that Hlophe had accepted his nomination for chief justice position.
The panel that will oversee the selection process consist of former judge of the International Court of Justice and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, as chairperson; Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola; former minister of justice Jeff Radebe; former public protector Thuli Madonsela; co-chair of the South African National Aids Council, Mmapaseka Steve Letsike; and professor of law at Howard University School of Law, Professor Ziyad Motala.
The panel is required to report to the president by Friday, 29 October 2021.