Chief justice to be named

2009-10-01 12:05

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma will on Thursday announce South Africa's new chief justice.

Zuma faced the task of nominating a new chief justice a few months into his term, as current Chief Justice Pius Langa, at the helm of the judiciary since 2005, retires this month.

In August Zuma nominated Justice Sandile Ngcobo as his preferred candidate, to the chagrin of opposition parties who insisted the pick was unconstitutional.

By law, the president as head of the national executive, after consulting the Judicial Service Commission and the leaders of parties represented in the National Assembly, appoints the chief justice and his or her deputy.

The DA, Cope, the IFP and ID accused Zuma of failing to consult properly ahead of his nomination of Ngcobo.

The opposition urged Zuma to restart the process from scratch saying they would prefer current Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke for the post.

Preferred candidate

Zuma wrote a formal letter to the parties saying that Ngcobo remained his preferred candidate, though he had not "taken a final decision on whom to appoint". He urged them to comment on his nomination and put forward their case for Moseneke.

But the parties remained unmoved. They said his remarks had side-stepped debate on the real issues at stake.

The opposition said Moseneke was the best qualified person for the post because he had been working with Langa for the past four years.

They argue Moseneke has been passed up for promotion because he angered the ANC in stating, before the ruling party's Polokwane national conference - where Zuma won control of the ANC - that the future of the country did not lie with delegates, but with the electorate.

The announcement will be made at the Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria at 15:00.