Detractors express concern over Mogoeng’s appointment as chief justice

2011-09-09 06:56

President Jacob Zuma’s decision to appoint Constitutional Court Judge Mogoeng Mogoeng as the next chief justice has drawn flak from opposition parties and lobby groups.

Zuma announced Mogoeng’s appointment after the majority of commissioners on the Judicial Service Commission endorsed the appointment of the Constitutional Court judge, despite objections from some sections of the legal profession and civil society.

Mogoeng’s detractors have cited the paucity of his published judgments and articles, and his attitude towards gender violence.

DA leader Helen Zille, whose attempts to meet Zuma over Mogoeng this week failed, said her party was thinking through “the implications of what we consider to be a defective (consultation) process.

“We are deeply concerned that the president did not engage in appropriate consultation, or take into consideration objections voiced by political parties, civil society organisations and the legal fraternity.

“We are equally concerned that the Judicial Service Commission turned down our proposal to interview more than one candidate,” Zille said.

Inkatha Freedom Party chief whip Koos van der Merwe said he would consider introducing a private members’ bill in Parliament to change the way the chief justice is appointed.

“We need to consider whether an amendment to our Constitution is now needed. Clearly, we need to amend this defective process in which the president is able to virtually unilaterally appoint a chief justice, who is not necessarily the best candidate for the position. We need public participation, in which a meaningful process of consultation takes place,” he said.

Lobby group AfriForum said it was consulting its lawyers with a view to set aside Mogoeng’s appointment on the grounds that Zuma had not consulted the Judicial Service Commission before announcing his nomination.

“Zuma had clearly made up his mind before the consultation process, which is inconsistent with the Constitution. The consultation process was, therefore, mere window dressing,” said AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel.

Lawson Naidoo, the spokesperson for the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac), also expressed dissatisfaction with the appointment in a radio interview.

He said Zuma had appointed the chief justice despite the division his nomination had wrought on South African society.

In contrast, the ANC, the United Democratic Movement and the African Christian Democratic Party welcomed the appointment.

ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said the ruling party had confidence that Mogoeng would complete the task of transforming the judiciary.

“He will be key in ensuring access to justice, proper functioning of our courts, access to judicial processes and sound administration to support effective justice,” Mthembu said.

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