SUPREME Court of Appeal (SCA) Judge President Mandisa Maya will be seized with the reconsideration application filed by former president Jacob Zuma ahead of her interview next month for the position of the country’s Deputy Chief Justice.
Zuma’s legal team is expected in court later this month for a possible decision after the former president asked Judge Maya to reconsider the SCA’s dismissal of four of his special pleas – all dealing with his attempt to force prosecutor Billy Downer to recuse himself from his corruption trial.
Zuma accuses Downer of “unauthorised disseminating” of confidential information about his medical condition.
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) said that on April 7, Chief Justice Raymond Zondo received a letter from President Cyril Ramaphosa indicating that he is considering appointing Judge Maya as Deputy Chief Justice.
Her public interview is set to take place on June 20.
Jacob Zuma Foundation spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi said Zuma’s legal team were hopeful that Judge Maya would have made a decision by May 17, when the matter returns to court.
“There has been no feedback from the SCA, but even the judge (Piet Koen) does not anticipate a response as he set aside a reserve date for that eventuality.”
Earlier this year, during the interview for the position of Chief Justice, Judge Maya faced several questions around whether the position should be filled by a woman.
Ramaphosa eventually appointed Justice Raymond Zondo to the position.
Legal analyst Mpumelelo Zikalala said he did not think there would be questions over merit versus gender parity when Judge Maya is interviewed next month.
“People were satisfied with the answers and those interviewees who asked the questions are no longer part of the interview process.”
Zikalala said the JSC during interviews missed important questions and the interview of Judge Maya should be used as an opportunity to ask pertinent questions that will have a future bearing on the judiciary.
“One of the crucial questions that they can ask is about the development of the judiciary regarding infrastructure and skills.
“Why is there no internet in court offices so that hearings can be conducted virtually?
“Why is it that in KwaZulu-Natal, 90% of the hearings are through physical appearances? This is expensive for clients who have to travel to court and find a matter is postponed.”
Zikalala said another focus area in the questioning should be the development of skills for the justice system as there is always room for improvement, especially in judgments where there is a regurgitation of principles and no development of the law.
“Instead judges should make us understand how they arrived at a particular matter.”
He said training of aspirant judges was also crucial and there was a need to unblock the bottlenecks in the process: “Only a minority can become acting judges or make it onto the JSC. There must be a way of attracting aspirant judges and making it a transparent process. The same can be said of magistrates. How else are you going to change the judicial terrain?”