Former spy boss Arthur Fraser officially opposes nomination of Raymond Zondo for Chief Justice position
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Durban - The former head of the country’s correctional services and former chief of spies, Arthur Fraser, has officially raised his objection to the nomination of deputy chief justice, Raymond Zondo, as one of the people who should be considered for the vacant position of Chief Justice.
In a letter sent to the panel chaired by former Judge of the International Court of Justice and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, tasked with recommending fives names to President Cyril Ramaphosa by October 29 this year, Fraser raised several points.
The letter was sent just in the nick of time on Friday, October 15, 2021, the cut-off date for members of the public to raise their objections and it was sent through Mabuza Attorneys of Johannesburg.
In the main three points, Fraser said: Zondo lacks the requisite judicial independence, lacks the necessary loyalty to the oath of office taken by judicial officers when they are appointed and lacks the integrity and fairness required for the office of the Chief Justice.
His argument is based on the conduct of Zondo as the chairperson of the state capture commission which was probing allegations of state capture by the Gupta family during the 2009-2018 presidency of former president Jacob Zuma.
Fraser’s name featured prominently during the sitting of the commission as having abused secret service funds and in the letter of objection, he cries foul, saying he was never given a chance to state his side of the story.
Fraser urges that as such, Zondo “is demonstrably not a fit and proper candidate to be the face and embodiment of the values enshrined in the Constitution of South Africa”.
Throwing more punches at Zondo, Fraser said Zondo’s conduct was meant to please the ruling political elite so that it could, in future, green light his nomination as the next chief justice of the country.
“Together with Mr Paul Pretorius SC (Head of the Commission’s Legal Team and Evidence Leader), he deliberately permitted no less than 10 witnesses to present falsehoods about me without affording me even one opportunity to state my version before the Commission or to defend myself against any of the allegations made against me.
“I have reason to believe that Deputy Chief Justice Zondo did this in order to endear himself with the political class so that he can secure the position of Chief Justice for which he is now nominated,” Fraser said in his objection letter.
Furthermore, Fraser said he has reason to believe that Zondo’s conduct was deliberate and sought to protect those ’I would have exposed to be the real culprits in capturing or attempting to recapture the State. I further have reason to believe that his deliberate conduct sought to protect the real origins of the idea of the commission as a foreign-sponsored concept’.
“Due to my privileged position as a former head of Intelligence, I also have knowledge of person(s) who were carefully selected to execute same. It is this information that Deputy Chief Justice Zondo vehemently opposed to prevent me from exposing. It also sought to conceal and protect the role of old apartheid security intelligence networks in capturing the post-apartheid state.
His conduct and treatment of witnesses that did not fit the Commission’s narrative demonstrates his lack of judicial independence and ability to act without fear or favour as demanded by his oath of office. Such a person cannot and should never be entrusted with the highest judicial office in the land. His appointment would signal the death of our judiciary and would have a corrosive effect on our democratic values as a country."
By opposing Zondo’s nomination, Fraser is joining the likes of the National Freedom Party (NFP) which recently said Zondo abused his position to settle scores with Zuma and should not be considered for the position.
On the other hand, the Congress of the People (Cope) said Zondo did an excellent job as the chair of the commission and should be given the chief justice position.
The Helen Suzman Foundation has publicly raised objections about the shortlisting of Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane and Western Cape Judge President, Judge John Hlophe, saying they are too tainted to be even shortlisted to the critical position.