EFF slams Zondo appointment as chief justice but other parties approve

10 March 2022 - 21:50
By Nonkululeko Njilo
Chief justice Raymond Zondo. File image.
Image: Veli Nhlapo DD060421 zondo2 Chief justice Raymond Zondo. File image.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to appoint Raymond Zondo as the next chief justice was short-sighted, factional and uninspiring, says the EFF. 

But the DA, IFP, FF Plus, and Al-Jamah are delighted at the appointment of a “person of integrity, with the necessary skills and expertise fit for purpose as chief justice” — and of someone who would bring about stability in the ConCourt bench.  

In a strongly worded statement on Thursday evening, the EFF not only criticised Ramaphosa’s decision but also questioned the credibility of the incoming chief justice, who presided over state capture commission.  

“This is despite arguably having the most delegitimising and compromising interview in front of the Judicial Service Commission. The appointment of Raymond Zondo, effectively means that the capture of our judiciary by white-monopoly capital and its interests has been completed.

“Zondo has over the past few years imprinted himself as a politically divisive force in South African society. He is a member of the judiciary who is prone to descending into the political arena when he is expected to exercise restraint. His arrogance, and reluctance to be truthful about his relationship with Jacob Zuma, led to his refusal to recuse himself when confronted with Zuma as a witness at the state Capture Commission in 2021,” said EFF national spokesperson Sinawo Tambo.

The FF Plus’s Pieter Groenewald said Zondo was a decisive leader who took bold decisions without fear or prejudice as chair of the state capture inquiry.

“He did not hesitate to ask probing questions, irrespective of the importance or status of the individuals holding high political office who appeared before him.

“He exposed those who had been involved in corruption and even requested that some of them be investigated more thoroughly. This indicates that his reasoning is independent of politics, and he shows no favouritism,” he said.

The DA’s Glynnis Breytenbach expressed similar sentiments.

“We are very delighted with this appointment. Chief justice Zondo brings years and years of experience to this position. The Constitutional Court has been without a permanent leader for some time now. He will bring stability and direction into that bench. We are very happy, we warmly congratulate him,” she said.

Leader of Al Jama-ah, Ganief Hendricks, said Zondo made the cut and expressed confidence at his ability to ensure accessibility, a culture of respect and tolerance in the judiciary.

“Chief justice Zondo is well placed to revolutionise the judiciary by promoting African jurisprudence, developing African common law and to erase apartheid cases dating back to 1948,” says Hendricks.

“Al Jama-ah is confident that chief justice will ensure that a culture of respect and tolerance will exist in all aspects of the operations in the judiciary. He has a great responsibility to ensure that all South Africans have equal access to justice.”

The IFP’s national spokesperson, Mkhuleko Hlengwa, sang the same tune and  moved to address criticism against Zondo during his tenure at the commission.

“Justice Zondo stepped up and accepted the challenging, politically charged assignment, and presided over the proceedings without fear, or favour. He conducted himself in a manner that was above reproach, and a credit to the judiciary.

“However, this commission is not the sum of justice Zondo’s knowledge and experience. He has, over a long and distinguished career, shown himself to be a person of integrity, with the necessary skills and expertise to be fit for purpose as chief justice,” said Hlengwa.

Ramaphosa would also nominate Supreme Court of Appeal president Mandisa Maya as the deputy chief justice, a statement from the presidency on Thursday said.

The appointments followed a lengthy public nomination process and a widely criticised set of interviews by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), after which the commission recommended Maya for the job. It was then a month before the president made his choice.

The EFF also took a swipe at Maya’s imminent nomination, saying it was an indication of Ramaphosa’s hatred for black women.   

“The most painful part of his appointment is that it comes at the expense of a qualified, politically independent and credible woman candidate. President Maya had the most impressive interview, at a forum constituted by duly elected MPs and esteemed members of the legal profession.

“Ramaphosa has chosen to ignore the recommendation of a capable black woman, because he has a deep hatred for women and places his political desires above the transformation agenda in SA. He is a weak-spirited man, who suffers from the low self-esteem that results in women being paid less than their male counterparts in this country,” the party said.