Zuma demands reversal of Zondo’s appointment or else …

Former president Jacob Zuma has instructed his lawyers to demand that his predecessor, President Cyril Ramaphosa, reverse the appointment of Raymond Zondo as chief justice.

Zondo became the country’s highest judicial authority in March 2022 after defeating his contender Justice Mandisa Maya, who currently serves as his deputy.

In a letter to the Ramaphosa, Zuma’s lawyers Ntanga Nkuhlu Inc Attorneys claim that Zondo is unsuitable for the position. They further say his appointment was made with “ulterior, illegal, unconstitutional, and personal motives”.

Zuma asserts that Zondo should have been disqualified for several reasons, including his alleged dishonesty about private meetings he held with the former statesman.

He also points out that Zondo previously disregarded an application brought by him against his non-recusal from the State Capture Commission, given their previous relationships and dealings.

The former president further says because Zondo was ranked last by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) after the interviews, he was never the suitable candidate in the first instance, claiming that his appointment defied the gender transformation requirements of section 174(2) of the constitution.

Maya, who outperformed Zondo, according to Zuma, was overlooked despite being a more suitable candidate.

Zuma argues that Zondo’s subsequent conduct, such as making adverse findings against him in the State Capture Commission report without giving him a fair hearing and making insulting political and personal statements against him during a lecture at the University of Fort Hare, has further demonstrated his unsuitability.

He is demanding that Ramaphosa recalls Zondo as his appointment violates constitutional obligations and overlooks the recommendations of the JSC.

He also wants the president to furnish him with reasons that led to Zondo’s appointment.

Zuma warns that failure to comply with his demands will result in urgent legal proceedings in the appropriate court.

“For all the reasons mentioned above, which are by no means exhaustive, our client has instructed us to demand, as we hereby do, that you reverse your illegal decision[s] to appoint judge Zondo as chief justice, and to ignore or overlook the recommendations of the JSC,” reads the letter.

“Such conduct was clearly in violation of your constitutional obligations conferred in terms of section 178, read with section 83 of the constitution. You are required to do so on or before 11 May 2023.

“Secondly, we are instructed to demand, as we hereby do, that you furnish our client with the reasons which led to your aforesaid ostensibly irrational decision[s] and/or conduct and to do so by the date referred to in the preceding paragraph.

“Failure to comply with any or all the abovementioned demands will result in our client instituting urgent legal proceedings in the appropriate court without giving any further notice to you.”

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