With the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) set to conduct interviews early next month on the four candidates nominated for the position of South Africa’s next chief justice, the public has until Monday, 10 January 2022, to comment on the suitability of the nominees.
The four candidates vying for the top job are acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, Constitutional Court Judge Mbuyiseli Madlanga, Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) Judge President Mandisa Maya, and Gauteng High Court Judge President Dunstan Mlambo.
The nominees are expected to be invited for public interviews by the JSC, scheduled to take place from 1 to 5 February 2022, in Gauteng, to determine their suitability for the position of Chief Justice.
The interviews will be chaired by SCA Deputy Judge President Xola Petse.
In November last year, President Cyril Ramaphosa submitted a list of four names to the JSC for consideration after, in an unprecedented move, he called for nominations from the public and appointed a selection panel to draw up a shortlist of candidates.
This followed the retirement in October of former chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng after he served a 10-year tenure at the Constitutional Court as South Africa’s chief justice.
Although Ramaphosa is not required to embark on a public participation process on the appointment of the chief justice, the Constitution requires the president to consult the JSC and leaders of political parties in the National Assembly on the appointment of the chief justice.
Delay in appointing chief justice
While Mogoeng retired in October as Chief Justice and Zondo has been acting in the position ever since, lobby group Judges Matter said the public participation process had produced four excellent judges, who had put themselves forward for the position.
Judges Matter believes that each judge would be given an opportunity to cast their vision for the Judiciary during the interviews next month, but said the process could have been better handled from the beginning.
“We do think that it could have been managed better. The president could have gotten the process going a long time before chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng retired,” Mbekezeli Benjamin from Judges Matter told eNCA on Monday.
Benjamin set out the four qualities that should inform the JSC on who should be the next chief justice.
“The first one is that the person must be an excellent judge, they must have written judgments that have an impact on the law and the development of the law.
“The second one is integrity, the person must have a track record of integrity. The third one is that the person must have leadership or management experience… and the last one is a commitment to the values of the constitution,” he said.
Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe