Article by: Natalie Müller
BREAKING: Deputy Cheif Justice Raymond Zondo has been elected into the Chief Justice position by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has this afternoon through a media statement, announced the official appointment of Raymond Zondo as the new Cheif Justice, in accordance with Section 174(3) of the Constitution.
The decision comes after the stringent assessment of all the potential candidates interviewed and recommended for the position by the JSC.
Zondo’s term of office is set to take effect as of April 1,2022.
According the statement; The President’s decision follows consultation with the Judicial Service Commission and leaders of parties in the National Assembly on four nominees for appointment as Chief Justice.
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”.
With Justice Zondo assuming the position of Chief Justice, the position of Deputy Chief Justice will become vacant.
Regardless of the recommendation handed to the President by the Justice Service Commission, where Justice Mandisa Maya was identified as the proposed candidate for the position, Ramaphosa has been stern in his decision to elect Raymond Zondo as his candidate of choice.
Political parties such as the EFF amongst other interested parties have rejected the appointment of Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, through media statements shared on various media platforms.
“once the new Chief Justice assumes office, to nominate Justice Mandisa Maya for the position of Deputy Chief Justice. This nomination will be subject to the process outlined in Section 174(3) of the Constitution”– Said Ramaphosa.
In September 2021, President Ramaphosa invited public nominations for the position of Chief Justice. The President appointed a panel, chaired by Judge Navanethem Pillay, to evaluate nominations made by the public and to shortlist nominees who fulfilled the advertised requirements for nomination.
After considering the Report of the Nomination Panel, President Ramaphosa identified the following candidates for consideration for appointment:
– Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga
– Justice Mandisa Maya
– Justice Dunston Mlambo
– Justice Raymond Zondo
The President then invited the Judicial Service Commission and leaders of parties in the National Assembly to express their views regarding the suitability of any of the four nominees for appointment as Chief Justice.
President Ramaphosa expressed his gratitude to each of the nominees for making themselves available for the position of the head of the judiciary. He also expressed his gratitude to the Judicial Service Commission, the leaders of political parties, the members of the nomination panel and the many South Africans who submitted nominations.
“The inclusive process of selecting the next Chief Justice demonstrated not only the value that South Africans place on the judiciary, but also the depth of experience and capability within the senior ranks of the judiciary,” President Ramaphosa said.
“The position of Chief Justice carries a great responsibility in our democracy. As the head of the judiciary, the Chief Justice is a guardian of our Constitution and the laws adopted by the freely elected representatives of the people. The Chief Justice stand as the champion of the rights of all South Africans and bears responsibility for ensuring equal access to justice. I have every confidence that Justice Zondo will acquit himself with distinction in this position.”
Justice Zondo was first appointed as a judge of the Labour Court in 1997 and was Judge President of the Labour and Labour Appeals courts between 2000 and 2010. He has been a judge of the Constitutional Court since 2012 and was appointed as Deputy Chief Justice in 2017. He holds a BJuris degree from the University of Zululand and obtained his LLB from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He also holds an LLM (cum laude) from the University of South Africa and another with a specialisation in commercial law.