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Madlanga gave a ‘decent but not convincing’ chief justice interview: expert

Judge Mbuyiseli Madlanga at the interviews for SA's next chief justice February 1 2022 in Sandton, Johannesburg.
Judge Mbuyiseli Madlanga at the interviews for SA's next chief justice February 1 2022 in Sandton, Johannesburg.
Image: Gallo Images/Daily Maverick/Felix Dlangamandla

Constitutional Court judge Mbuyiseli Madlanga gave a “decent” but not convincing performance at his interview for the position of chief justice.

This is according to Mbekezeli Benjamin, research and advocacy officer at Judges Matter, who was commenting on Madlanga’s interview with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on Tuesday.

Madlanga was the first of four candidates to be interviewed for the position.

On Wednesday, the JSC will interview Gauteng judge president Dunstan Mlambo, followed by Supreme Court of Appeal president Mandisa Maya on Thursday and deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo on Friday.

Benjamin said Madlanga’s answers were long-winded and did not provide enough detail on how he would lead the apex court.

“Overall he gave a decent performance. He seemed successful in casting a vision for the judiciary and he focused on improving efficiency at the Constitutional Court,” Benjamin said.

Madlanga provided examples of things he had done and cases he had presided over when the chief justice and acting chief justice were away.

“But he is the only candidate who has not held a leadership position and he was asked a lot of questions about that. I think he was not convincing on the question, that is why a lot of commissioners kept repeating it.”

Madlanga did not give the impression that he understood the administrative part of the job he was applying for.

“He told the commission some responsibilities would be allocated to other people because the main role of the chief justice is to focus on being a trendsetter.

“On the judicial track record he was able to explain it, but he was not able give a narrative of his philosophy on how he approaches cases.

“But we don’t know what his competitors will say and we will see what happens during the week,” said Benjamin.

During his interview, Madlanga cited leadership positions he has held in his career.

He was appointed chairperson of the Amnesty Unit which he started from scratch.

“There is demonstrable evidence of my leadership skills. I have led at various levels. I have even led a court,” Madlanga said, referring to his acting stint as judge president of the high court of the former Transkei.

Madlanga said for three years he was deputy chair of the Competition Tribunal.

“Before my appointment to the Constitutional Court I was chief evidence leader in the Marikana Commission [of inquiry] leading a team of seven counsel, three of whom, including myself, were senior counsel,” he said.


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