Chief justice choice - opposition unhappy

2011-08-16 22:14

Cape Town - Only the ANC has so far come out in support of President Jacob Zuma's surprise nomination on Tuesday of Constitutional Court Judge Mogoeng Mogoeng as new chief justice.

Opposition parties mostly questioned the wisdom of the move.

Acknowledging receipt of Zuma's letter on Tuesday regarding the appointment of a new chief justice, United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said it was difficult to give views on a candidate who had "already been chosen" by Zuma, because of not being acquainted with the selection criteria used.

However, after a brief background check he discovered Mogoeng, 50, seemed to lack Constitutional Court experience and "appears controversial to say the least".

"The only positive that I could casually pick up about the nominee is his age... I would strongly recommend that the experience of the candidate for the position of chief justice be accorded due regard in the selection method used," Holomisa said.

Inkatha Freedom Party chief whip Koos van der Merwe said he had been taken by surprise by the nomination.

Mogoeng was a relatively junior judge in comparison to other more senior, experienced judges.

One would have expected a far more senior judge to have been afforded the opportunity to occupy the most powerful position in the judiciary.

"However, as it is clear that president Zuma has already made up his mind and that the consultation process is a mere formality, it is a foregone conclusion that Judge Mogoeng Mogoeng will be appointed the next chief justice," Van der Merwe said.

Track record

The Democratic Alliance reserved immediate comment on Zuma's nomination.

DA leader Helen Zille confirmed receiving a letter from Zuma asking for the DA's comments on Mogoeng's suitability for the position by August 24.

The party would carefully consider Mogoeng's track record, jurisprudence, and past commitment to the independence of the judiciary.

In addition, given the proposed expanded functions and office of the chief justice within the new legislative framework of the courts, any nominee for the position would need to have clearly displayed superior administrative and financial skills.

Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder also reserved immediate comment.

It was in South Africa's interest that a new chief justice would defend the independence of the legal system and the Constitution in an impartial manner.

"As the president has given us time until the 24th August 2011 to submit comments, I will be discussing the issue with party members and the decision making structures of the Freedom Front Plus before we give any comments," Mulder said.

Full confidence

The Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) of Azania spokesperson Apa Pooe said Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke should have been nominated instead.

It was a vote of no confidence in Moseneke who had served no fewer than two different chief justices.

However, the PAC's disappointment did not in any way reflect on Mogoeng's capacity or reflect non-support thereof, he said.

The ANC, on the other hand, welcomed the nomination and said it had "full confidence" in him.

"Not only do we welcome progress in the process of filling the void left by retired chief justice Ngcobo, we firmly believe that this will now create certainty and stability in the highest court in the country - the Constitutional Court," spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said.

Zuma nominated Mogoeng to replace former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo whose term of office ended on Sunday.

In terms of the Constitution, Zuma has to appoint the chief justice after consultation with the Judicial Service Commission and leaders of parties represented in the National Assembly.

Preferred candidate

On Tuesday Zuma sent letters to parties and the commission advising them of his nomination of Mogoeng as his preferred candidate for chief justice.

"Justice Mogoeng, who was appointed to the Constitutional Court in 2009, brings several years of experience in the legal profession, including the judiciary," he said.

Mogoeng was appointed a judge of the North West High Court in June 1997, judge of the Labour Appeal Court in April 2000, and in October 2002 he became the judge president of the North West High Court.

He was born in Goo-Mokgatha (Koffiekraal) village, north-east of Zeerust, on January 14, 1961.

He graduated from the University of Zululand with a B Juris in 1983, and completed his LLB at the University of Natal, Durban in 1985.

In 1989, he completed his studies at the University of South Africa, where he studied an LLM concentrating on labour law, the law of property, the law of insurance, the law of evidence, and the law of criminal procedure.

  • Bill - 2011-08-16 22:39

    Sure the DA should be worried, judge Mogoeng Mogoeng was chosen because of his political agenda that is compatible with Zuma's requirements. Call it Zuma's safety net if you will....! Typical Zuma shenanigans to his advantage

      First-year Philosophy Student - 2011-08-17 02:00

      Whoa man the guy's name, like, appears twice.. It's easier to, like, remember and stuff. Shweet man.

  • Matthew - 2011-08-16 23:08

    I'm not too sure why on earth Zuma would do this. I understand him not choosing Moseneke as he spoke out against Zuma. But why the most Junior of Judges? Surely there was someone else to choose from. What I further don't understand is that the Justice chosen is a conservative leaning Justice, surely Zuma would choose a more liberal Justice to advance the agenda of a more liberal ANC? Boggles the mind.

  • Marcell - 2011-08-17 01:40

    Only 50. Is he still a member of the ancyl?

      Warped - 2011-08-17 06:58

      His application for membership is on hold until he reaches the required age.

  • Mandla - 2011-08-17 02:49

    Tommorow`s leaders need to be afforded the chance to lead and gain experiance to lead the country in the future.I have noted with disappointment that everybody is talking about experiance.Who then is going to give him experiance or is there any shop were somebody can buy this monster called experiance.Lets disagree on something else not the issue of experiance.As for you Mr Holomisa,most of us as black people are not offered higher management position because our whites counterparts are saying we are lacking in experiance,you are also saying the samething.Where do you stand on the issue of advancing black people to higher position in the private sector.

      Marcell - 2011-08-17 03:01

      It makes one think. He is already 50 and still does not have enough experience. Private sector is : What can you do for the company and not what can I steal from the company.

      markings - 2011-08-17 05:13

      Let us remember that e.g. mathematician reach their peak at the age of 25. His age shouldn't be a question. The DA is right to not jump on the ageism and experience bandwagon.

      Allin - 2011-08-17 06:27

      I think you need some experiEnce in spell-checking.

      George - 2011-08-17 11:15

      Holomisa is talking crap. He was a baby when he launched a coup in the old Bantustan of Transkei or Ciskei whatever banana republic he ruled.

  • Muzi - 2011-08-17 06:14

    The DA is always oppose to anything that is being raised by the ANC *thats a couse for concern* for concern*

      Oom Filimon - 2011-08-17 08:35

      chief bab (zuma) could have nominated a lump of cr*p and the anc muppets and the rest of the anc sheep will endorse it! Do you for one moment think that chief bab will not nominate someone who will not look after his own (chief bab's) interests??

      tootingdel - 2011-08-18 08:41

      The DA hasn't said it will oppose. they have a right to comment and will plan to do so. That is what consulation is all about. The ANC leader has given then til 24 August to comment. Shame the Public Prosecutor didn't give the ANC leader a deadline to respond to investigation into corruption amongst the ANC leader's comrades.

  • Nico - 2011-08-17 06:23

    zuma should have chosen Judge Sisi Khampepe. she most senior than Moegoeng

  • Vince York - 2011-08-17 06:40

    Gut feel - Justice Moseneke tends towards nurturing the youth jobs Justice BUT Justice Mogoeng tends towards being a traditional racist sycophant favouring Zuma and the octopus strangling SA. Also carefully noted are the slipups Mogoeng has already made during short tenure, leaving the question - will he easily make a slipup as did Mpshe et al?

  • KrayZee - 2011-08-17 07:57

    What a mockery and a farce. The Constitutional Court is the highest authority in what is supposed to be an INDEPENDENT JUDICIARY... and the Chief Justice is chosen by someone who would have been a criminal (along with Sheik) had the rule of law been upheld a few years ago. Should the Chief Justice not be chosen by a peer system from suitably qualified and experienced candidates? What we have now is a Standard 6 pupil being chosen as Head Boy! As Jannie once remarked to his teacher when asked about his address -"Juffrou, my pa sĂȘ ons bly in K@K Straat, en ons weet nie eers wat die nommer is nie".

  • DW - 2011-08-17 08:46

    Does anyone notice how many of these highly placed blacks managed to get extremely well educated IN South Africa UNDER APARTHEID? Makes you realise that, despite the circumstances, some people can and will rise above the difficult circumstances. I dont know this man and will not comment on his ability as chief justice, but the premise that the apartheid era education was so bad that every black was disadvantaged is clearly wrong. He is better educated than most of our students today in a "free and fair" country.

  • tokoloshe - 2011-08-17 10:23


  • Rofras - 2011-08-17 11:10

    White ppl and foreigners complain about evrything...just leave the country or do something about it...When you guys were in power we did something about it..stop naging like a pregnant woman...

  • Calumnia Est - 2011-08-17 12:28

    A mockery of the Judiciary!

  • Clive - 2011-08-19 13:15

    It has become crystal clear that when the Pres appoints a senior government official - especially one in the justice cluster - he asks himself three questions: is it good for Jacob Zuma? is it good for the ANC? is it good for the country? AND IN THAT ORDER! It is he who impugns the dignity of the judiciary by putting himself and the ruling party ahead of the country by appointing lightweights and those who have helped him get out of trouble. Remember Simelane?

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