The nomination of Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo as the next Chief Justice has attracted a mix of reactions from political parties and ordinary South Africans alike.
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday appointed Zondo as chief justice effective April 1, in accordance with Article 174(3) of the constitution.
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) had recommended Supreme Court President Mandisa Maya for the top position.
In a statement, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) rejected the nomination, labeling Ramaphosa’s decision “short-sighted, factional and uninspired”.
His arrogance and unwillingness to be honest about his relationship with Jacob Zuma led to his refusal to pull himself out when he was confronted by Zuma as a witness before the state detention commission in 2021. It was this hateful, vindictive and unfair decision that led to the greatest security threat in post-democratic South Africa, where more than 300 people died during the unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal in July 2021,” the party said.
Zondo has previously denied lying about his relationship with Zuma.
READ MORE: Zondo: I never denied that I met Zuma
“It was Zondo who inexplicably took on the task of holding a press conference in response to an op-ed by Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, against the consensus of his own colleagues, in his ongoing quest for popularity and showing his political allegiance,” the party said.
At the said January briefing, Zondo confirmed that he had consulted his colleagues in the judiciary before addressing Sisulu’s op-ed.
“The most painful thing about his nomination is that it comes at the cost of a qualified, politically independent and credible female candidate for Supreme Court of Appeals President Mandisa Maya,” the EFF said.
In the same statement announcing Zondo’s appointment, Ramaphosa indicated his intention to nominate Judge Maya for the position of Deputy Chief Justice.
“This appointment is subject to the process outlined in Article 174(3) of the Constitution,” he said.
Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen welcomed Ramaphosa’s decision.
“I think he made the right choice and it’s a safe pair of hands he’s chosen in Judge Raymond Zondo, especially after the sad saga we saw unfold at the JSC – a very unworthy interview process. Judge Zondo has clearly shown that he shows no fear or favor in the fight against corruption and mismanagement. He will make a major contribution to restoring confidence in the judiciary, especially after the work he has done at the Zondo Commission. He is trusted by a large number of South Africans, so his term will be good for the judiciary. It is a good choice by the president,” Steenhuisen said in an interview of enNCA†
Zondo was also the preferred candidate of the Freedom Front Plus, a statement said.
“Judge Zondo proved himself with the Zondo coup inquiry commission. He did not hesitate to ask probing questions, regardless of the importance or status of individuals in high political positions who appeared before him,” the party said.
“He has exposed those involved in corruption and has even asked that some of them be further investigated. This indicates that he is politically independent and has no preferences. This is expected of a chief justice; that he should be able to make decisions and findings without fear or prejudice.”
The party wished Zondo every success with his nomination.