Zuma defends announcement
Johannesburg - There was nothing unconstitutional about President Jacob Zuma nominating Sandile Ngcobo as the next Chief Justice, his office said.
It was only a nomination, and not an appointment, the presidency said in a statement posted on its website.
"The president has nominated someone for the position of chief justice. There is nothing in the constitution or law that prevents the president from indicating who his nominee is," the presidency said.
It was responding to a joint statement released by three opposition parties - the Democratic Alliance, Independent Democrats and Congress of the People on Friday.
The parties charged that the nomination was unconstitutional.
In terms of the constitution, the president must first consult the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and the leaders of parties represented in the National Assembly before appointing the chief justice and the deputy chief justice.
"The idea of consultation is straightforward - it is the necessity that the president elicits and considers the advice of the leaders of all parties represented in the National Assembly before coming to a conclusion about his appointment," said the opposition parties.
"Obviously, that consultation is designed, therefore, to inform his decision."
But Zuma said there was nothing wrong in indicating who his nominee was, and that his announcement on Thursday was only the beginning of a constitutional process.
"The president has initiated processes to consult with the Judicial Service Commission and the leaders represented in the National Assembly on his nominee, as required by the constitution," the presidency said.