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Ramaphosa exercised his ‘constitutionally granted discretion’ when appointing Chief Justice Zondo

Commission of inquiry into the State Capture chairperson Judge Ray Zondo handing over the State Capture report to the president Cyril Ramaphosa at the Union Building in Pretoria. Photo: Kopano Tlape GCIS

Commission of inquiry into the State Capture chairperson Judge Ray Zondo handing over the State Capture report to the president Cyril Ramaphosa at the Union Building in Pretoria. Photo: Kopano Tlape GCIS

Published May 16, 2022

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President Cyril Ramaphosa considered many factors, including ensuring continuity and certainty in the leadership of the judiciary, when he chose to appoint Justice Raymond Zondo as the country’s new chief justice.

In a written reply to a parliamentary question posed by EFF MP Dumisani Fannie Mthenjane, the president was asked what factors he took into account in his decision to appoint Justice Zondo and what led him to ignore the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to appoint the Judge President of the Supreme Court of Appeal, Justice Mandisa Maya.

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Ramaphosa said the Constitution set out the role of the chief justice, which was among the factors that were relevant to his choice of who should be the next chief justice.

“In addition, I considered the great value in ensuring continuity and certainty in the leadership of the judiciary, and the important role the judiciary plays in ensuring trust and faith in state institutions,” Ramaphosa said.

He said that while he had the benefit of the inputs of all political parties represented in Parliament, and the contents and outcomes of the interviews conducted by the JSC, “the Constitution did not give primacy to any of those entities and persons that I am enjoined to consult”.

“I exercised my constitutionally-granted discretion, taking into account all factors, in coming to the determination that Justice Raymond Zondo is the best person to be our next chief justice.”

In February, following interviews with four shortlisted candidates, the JSC recommended Justice Maya as the country’s next chief justice.

However, Ramaphosa decided to appoint Justice Zondo.

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Ramaphosa officially nominated Justice Maya as deputy chief justice in April, shortly after he named Justice Zondo as the next chief justice.

Justice Maya has accepted the nomination and will be interviewed on June 28 by the JSC to determine her suitability as deputy chief justice.

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