Zondo commission: Cyril Ramaphosa questioned on ANC recommendations on judge appointments
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Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa faced tough questions on the ANC's deployment committee which is said to have made recommendations on the appointment of judges, on Wednesday.
The inquiry heard evidence from the evidence leader, advocate Paul Pretorius, that the ANC's deployment committee had recommended the judges who were to fill two vacant positions – one in the Supreme Court of Appeal and another for judge president.
Pretorius said “this would be deemed as an unusual move”.
He quizzed Ramaphosa on why the party had felt comfortable with making the move.
But the ANC leader painstakingly explained that the committee did not appoint any judges but merely made recommendations.
"The deployment committee is not the appointing committee, that is comforting. Yes, political parties would try and influence. Influence yes, but appoint no. It is not the appointing structure. Whatever the appointing process is, the president will also take into account the JSC (Judicial Service Commission) processes," Ramaphosa said.
But Pretorius and Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo raised concerns that such recommendations could potentially influence the decision taken by the JSC tasked with recommending the appointment of judges.
The JSC consists of members of Parliament and leaders of the judiciary.
Zondo said: "The influence of the deployment committee may be very weighty, especially on ANC MPs who are members of the JSC."
Ramaphosa defended the ANC's ability to make recommendations, saying lobbying and influence were normal acts worldwide. Whether that was positive or negative would depend on the motives.
He used the need to transform the judiciary, to ensure a gender balance, as an example motivating a need for the party to make recommendations.
"I think we must accept that we live in a world where lobbying may take place and people would prefer certain candidates to be placed in certain positions.
“If one accepts that there will be groups of people who will articulate their preferences, it should not be seen as something evil. If it is meant to achieve unlawful ends, then there is a problem.
"If it is to achieve a particular purpose such as having more women in the judiciary, I do not think there is anything particularly wrong with that," Ramaphosa said.
The inquiry continues.