AfriForum takes up Mogoeng case
Johannesburg - Legal opinion was being sought on the constitutionality of President Jacob Zuma's nomination of Judge Mogoeng Mogoeng as new chief justice, AfriForum said on Sunday.
The civil rights organisation objected to Zuma announcing his nomination for the post before he had consulted the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on the matter, spokesperson Ernst Roets said.
According to the Constitution, the president must appoint a chief justice after consulting the JSC and leaders of political parties represented in the National Assembly.
"If the President announced his nomination before starting a process of consultation, it is reasonable to assume that he has already made his decision and that the consultation is approached as a mere formality," Roets said.
The position was left vacant by Judge Sandile Ngcobo's retirement earlier this month.
On Sunday, the Freedom Front Plus called on Zuma to submit more nominations for the post.
Party leader Pieter Mulder said it was a constitutional requirement for the leaders of opposition parties to be consulted when such an opinion was made.
"Are political leaders really being consulted with the possibility of the President changing his choice in the light of our comments or are we merely being informed in order to pass it off in terms of the Constitution?" Mulder asked.
He said it was not fair towards Mogoeng to criticise him without an alternative choice being clear.
There should be a healthy tension between the legislative, executive and judicial authorities, he said.
Some opposition parties have strongly opposed Mogoeng's nomination on the grounds that he lacks the necessary experience, especially on constitutional issues.
Democratic Alliance spokesperson Dene Smuts said the party would only comment on Mogoeng's nomination when DA leader Helen Zille gave Zuma her reply on Mogoeng's suitability as chief justice and after the JSC has had an opportunity to interview the nominee.
The DA also called for a public interview with Mogoeng after Zuma announced him as his nominee for Chief Justice.
The ANC and its allies, on the other hand, have thrown their weight firmly behind Zuma's choice.
On Saturday, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) said it will not call for further nominations for the position of chief justice.
"The JSC will convene a meeting to which it will invite the nominee of the president to submit to an interview for the purpose of determining the suitability of that candidate to be appointed as chief justice," JSC spokesperson CP Fourie said.
Saturday, September 3 has been proposed as the date for the public interview.
Various law bodies, including the General Council of the Bar of SA, the Law Society of SA, the Magistrates Association of SA, and the department of justice and constitutional development, will be asked to make written submissions on Mogoeng's suitability for the post.