Avatar photo

By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

Zuma asks court to set aside Zondo’s appointment as Chief Justice

A year after appointing Judge Raymond Zondo as Chief Justice, the Jacob Zuma Foundation wants the president to reverse his decision.

Former president Jacob Zuma has asked the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to review and set aside the appointment of Judge Raymond Zondo as Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa.  

Zuma and the Jacob Zuma Foundation challenged the appointment of Zondo as chief justice in May and demanded that President Cyril Ramaphosa reverse his decision to appoint him.

Court application

At the time, Ntanga Nkuhlu Inc, attorneys for the Zuma Foundation, issued a letter to Ramaphosa raising several issues about the appointment of Zondo.

In the letter, the attorneys said that during the said Judicial Service Commission (JSC) interviews, one of the pertinent issues raised was Zondo’s “clearly untruthful and dishonest” account of meetings privately held with Zuma.

Zuma and the foundation launched an application on 26 September against Ramaphosa in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria seeking relief to declare the conduct of the president in appointing Zondo as chief justice to be unconstitutional and to review and set aside the decision to appoint him.

According to the foundation, Ramaphosa filed his notice to oppose the application, while the JSC filed a notice to abide by whatever decision the court will make.

ALSO READ: Zuma Foundation demands Ramaphosa removes Zondo as Chief Justice

JSC and Ramaphosa decision

The Jacob Zuma Foundation’s spokesperson, Mzwanele Manyi, said the next step in the process would be the compulsory provision, by the JSC and Ramaphosa, of the record of the proceedings and deliberations pertaining to the JSC’s recommendations and Ramaphosa’s decision.

“According to publicly available evidence, the current chief justice scored the lowest number of votes from the JSC following the week-long interviews. Yet Mr Ramaphosa allegedly acted irrationally in ignoring the advice of the JSC and appointed him despite being effectively declared as unsuitable for the position and the poor showing he made at the public interviews.

“The applicants and the public will surely look forward to what legal justification Mr Ramaphosa will give for his decision when he files his answering affidavit. He (Ramaphosa) will be called upon to dispel the allegations or suspicions that Zondo was being unduly rewarded for absolving him for his role in the Bosasa/CR17 scandal, among other things, in the so-called State Capture Commission Report,” said Manyi.

Woman overlooked

Manyi added that Ramaphosa must also explain why he “overlooked a woman candidate (Judge Mandisa Maya) when she had, in any event, received the highest votes”.

“Such conduct is in breach of the equality clause (section 9 of the Constitution) and section 174(2) of the Constitution both of which prohibit gender discrimination. The foundation will keep the public informed of developments in this important matter involving accountability,” Manyi said.

Zondo appointment

The JSC last year recommended Maya, then Supreme Court of Appeal president, for the chief justice post, overlooking Zondo. But Ramaphosa appointed Zondo on 1 April 2022 and Maya as his deputy on 1 September 2022.

At the time, Zondo was the Deputy Chief Justice and chair of the State Capture Inquiry.

The president’s decision followed consultation with the JSC and leaders of parties in the National Assembly on four nominees for the top post.

However, more than a year later, the Zuma Foundation has taken issue with Zondo’s appointment.

A;SP READ: ‘He won’t be doing interviews on any matter under the sun’– Zuma goes to ground

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits