Office of the Chief Justice, political parties welcome Zondo's appointment - except the EFF

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  • The Office of the Chief Justice says it stands ready to welcome and support new Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. 
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa announced Zondo's appointment on Thursday.
  • A less enthusiastic EFF was dismayed Mandisa Maya was not chosen.

Several political parties, excluding the EFF, have praised President Cyril Ramaphosa's decision to promote Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo as the new Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court.

The red berets said they rejected Ramaphosa's decision which they described as "short-sighted, factional and uninspired".

Zondo succeeds Mogoeng Mogoeng, whose term of office ended in October 2021. 

The Presidency announced Zondo's appointment late on Thursday afternoon.

READ | Ramaphosa appoints Zondo as Chief Justice

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC), which EFF leader Julius Malema serves on as a commissioner, had on 5 February recommended Supreme Court of Appeal president Judge Mandisa Maya as Mogoeng's successor. 

The Presidency announced in a statement on Thursday: "President Cyril Ramaphosa has, in accordance with Section 174[3] of the Constitution, decided to appoint Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo as the next Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa with effect from 1 April 2022." 

"The president's decision follows consultation with the JSC and leaders of parties in the National Assembly on the four nominees for appointment as Chief Justice," read the statement.

AS IT HAPPENED | Zondo releases part 3 of the state capture report

Zondo was shortlisted with judges Mbuyiseli Madlanga, Maya and Dunston Mlambo, and was grilled by commissioners Malema and Dali Mpofu.

After a contentious round of interviews, the JSC, in an unusual step, recommended Maya for Chief Justice.

Raymond Zondo hands part 1 of the state capture report to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The JSC was widely criticised, and several commentators pointed out the president was not constitutionally obliged to follow its recommendation.

On Thursday, the EFF alleged, without providing evidence, Zondo's appointment was a reward for treating Ramaphosa with "kid gloves" at the State Capture Inquiry which he chaired. 

READ |  JSC recommends SCA president Mandisa Maya as next Chief Justice

The party said it believed Zondo had imprinted himself as a politically divisive force in South African society over the past few years. 

It felt Maya had the most impressive interview.

"Ramaphosa has chosen to ignore the recommendation for a capable black woman, because he has a deep hatred for women and places his political desires above the transformation agenda in South Africa,” said the EFF, again without evidence.  

DA leader John Steenhuisen shared on social media Ramaphosa had chosen a "safe pair of hands".

"Judge Zondo has a clear track record and will go a long way in restoring faith in the judiciary," he said.

COPE said it had no doubt Ramaphosa had applied his mind properly in appointing Zondo.

The party added the decision ensured continuity and brought stability to the Office of the Chief Justice, which also congratulated Zondo.

It said it stood ready to support him in his new role as the head of the Constitutional Court and judiciary.

READ | Pretoria Society of Advocates wants Dali Mpofu removed from the JSC

The ACDP said Zondo had done excellent work in chairing the Commission into State Capture. 

It added the fact that he had served as Deputy Chief Justice was also testament to the experience he possessed.

"While all four candidates were exceptional, we preferred him to fill the vacant position as he has been a Constitutional Court judge since 2012, and has been Acting Chief Justice since last year," said the party in a statement.  

The FF Plus said Zondo was the party's preferred candidate and it believed he was the best man for the job.

The party added Zondo proved his mettle with the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.

"He did not hesitate to ask probing questions, irrespective of the importance or status of the individuals holding high political offices who appeared before him.

"He exposed those who had been involved in corruption and even requested that some of them must be investigated more thoroughly," it said in a statement on Thursday.

The GOOD party welcomed Zondo's appointment, saying it encouraged him "to continue holding organs of state to account and deepening the integrity of our judiciary which is the last bulwark against state malfeasance".

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