Zuma welcomes ConCourt ruling on Ngcobo

2011-07-29 11:36

President Jacob Zuma has welcomed today’s Constitutional Court ruling that his extension of former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo’s term was unconstitutional.

Last month Zuma announced his controversial five-year extension of Ngcobo’s term, which was due to end on August 14.

Ngcobo resigned suddenly on Wednesday saying he had taken his decision to protect the integrity of the office of the chief justice and the esteem of the judiciary.

Zuma’s spokesperson, Mac Maharaj, said in a statement: “The law was valid until today’s judgement and government will now study the ruling to see what directives the Constitutional Court is giving to Parliament for remedial action.”

Three applications challenging the constitutionality of Zuma’s extension of Ngcobo’s term were brought by the Justice Alliance of SA, Freedom Under Law, Wits university’s Centre for Applied Legal Studies and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution.

The National Association of Democratic Lawyers, Black Lawyers Association and IFP MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini joined the matters as friends of the court.

“It is declared that Zuma’s request to Ngcobo to continue performing active service as Chief Justice in terms of Section 8(a) of the Judges’ Remuneration and Conditions of Employment Act is inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid and that the consequent extension of the term of office of the Chief Justice is of no force and effect,” the court ruled.

Constitutional Court judges serve for a non-renewable 12-year term or until they reach 70, whichever comes first.

A judge who has completed 12 years on the ConCourt bench but is not yet 70 can continue until 15 years of service and if at the age of 70 the 15 years of service has not been attained a judge can continue until the age of 75.

According to the Presidency, Zuma has begun the process of appointing a new chief justice and will do this in accordance with the provisions outlined in the Constitution.

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