FUL proposes constitutional amendment

2011-08-30 20:17
Cape Town - Freedom Under Law (FUL) has called for a constitutional amendment to ensure a proper and transparent appointment process for the chief justice.

FUL has submitted to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) an opinion obtained from three South African advocates - Jeremy Gauntlett SC, Max du Preez and Andreas Coutsoudis - regarding the procedure relating to the appointment of chief justices.

President Jacob Zuma earlier this month nominated Judge Mogoeng Mogoeng to replace former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo whose term of office expired on August 14.

In terms of section 174 (3) of the Constitution, Zuma has to appoint the chief justice after consultation with the JSC and leaders of parties represented in the National Assembly.

In their opinion, the advocates say it is evident that section 174(3) as it currently stands does not elaborately detail the process that should be followed and the form, and nature, of consultation required for the appointment of the chief justice.

It is prudent, and in the interests of constitutional certainty, for section 174(3) to be amended to ensure a proper and transparent appointment process, says FUL.

"We believe that one of the simplest, and most effective, options would be the adoption of a similar provision to that incorporated in section 174(4).

This may well alleviate many of the concerns that have arisen with the present process in theory and in practice, the advocates say.

Mogoeng will be interviewed in a special sitting of the JSC at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Saturday to assess his suitability as chief justice.

The special sitting will be open to the public and the media, advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza and CP Fourie, of the JSC, said in a statement.

"Following the interview, the JSC will advise the president of its views regarding the suitability of Justice Mogoeng to assume the position of chief justice," they said.

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