Expert says Zondo should not be appointed as next justice head because of age

Johannesburg – Advocate Mpumelelo Zikalala, a KwaZulu-Natal-based respected constitutional expert says it would be undesirable for current Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to be appointed in the vacant post on a permanent basis because he was close to his retirement age.

“In less than 24 months, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo will retire. So, there are no fundamental changes or meaningful impact that he would make. The position needs a fearless and solid jurist who will immediately deal with pressing issues in the judiciary,” he said.

Zikalala’s comments come amid the highly contested race for the next Chief Justice for the country’s apex court.

There are currently eight names that have been submitted to the panel of experts expected to grill those who have forwarded their names for consideration.

Those vying for the post include Supreme Court of Appeal Judge President Mandisa Maya, Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo, Constitutional Court Justices, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo and Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga, Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and Judge Leona Theron.

Zikalala added that besides Zondo’s judiciary career coming to an end soon, he has a lot on his hands: “The Deputy Chief Justice is currently seized with the State Capture Commission report that he has to compile which might also be taken under review by disgruntled parties.”

A panel comprising former Public Protector Professor Thuli Madonsela, professor of Law at the US based Howard University Ziyad Motala, Co-chair of the SA National Aids Council Mmapaseka Letsike are tasked with scrutinising the candidates.

The panel is led by Navi Pillay, an ex-judge at the Internal Criminal Court. After the process has been completed, a maximum of 5 names will be submitted to President Cyril Ramaphosa to apply his mind before making the announcement.

The next head of the judiciary would replace outgoing Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. Mogoeng was appointed back in 2011 by former president Jacob Zuma making him the fourth Chief Justice under the democratic dispensation.

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