JZ reacts in chief justice row

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has assured opposition parties he will consider their input when appointing the country's next chief justice.

Zuma said he had followed the right procedure by nominating Judge Sandile Ngcobo, pictured, to replace outgoing ChiefJustice Pius Langa.

In a letter to leaders of opposition parties yesterday, Zuma said: "The use of the word 'appoint' in response to a question from the media present, was inadvertent and does not change the fact that I had decided merely to nominate Justice Ngcobo to this position.

"It is common cause that you first nominate, and then open the consultative process. Our reading of the constitutional provisions regarding the appointment process does not preclude the president from proposing a name. In fact, the practice as followed in the past has generally been for the president to ask the parties to state their views on a particular name."

Zuma said he had not made a final decision on who would be the next chief justice.

"Please rest assured that I have not appointed a new chief justice, nor have I taken a final decision on whom to appoint as the new chief justice, but reiterate my confidence in Justice Ngcobo as my preferred candidate."

Cope spokesperson Phillip Dexter said the party still wanted Zuma to withdraw Ngcobo's nomination.

"We always knew he did not make an appointment but we are saying he should have consulted first. Justice (Dikgang) Moseneke is the person we think is appropriately qualified."

DA leader in Parliament Athol Trollip said he accepted Zuma's explanation.