Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has withdrawn her candidacy for the chief justice position, the Presidency confirmed on Friday.
This comes after the panel that helmed the selection process of the next chief justice submitted its report to President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The panel was expected to make a shortlist of three to five candidates.
The Presidency earlier this month released the names of the candidates who met the criteria to be considered for the top post after Ramaphosa invited the public to submit their nominations to replace former chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, whose term came to an end on 11 October.
The list included Mkhwebane, Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe – 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.
However, the Presidency on Friday announced that Mkhwebane and Mgoqi both withdrew from the process.
“Dr Wallace Amos Mgoqi subsequently tendered his withdrawal from the nomination process on 4 October 2021. Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane also withdrew from the process on 27 October 2021.”
Ramaphosa will now give consideration to the panel’s recommendations and will decide which candidates from the shortlist to refer to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and political parties represented in the National Assembly for consultation.
“The content of the report itself will not be made public as the candidates the president will select from the shortlist still need to go through a process of interviews by the [JSC] and consultation with the leaders of political parties represented in the National Assembly,” the Presidency added.
Section 174 (3) of the Constitution empowers the president to appoint the next chief justice after consultation.
What is a chief justice responsible for?
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 JSC.
Additional reporting by Earl Coetzee