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Mandisa Maya ‘fully supports’ Raymond Zondo’s appointment as Chief Justice

Supreme Court of Appeal President Justice Mandisa Maya. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA)

Supreme Court of Appeal President Justice Mandisa Maya. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 22, 2022


Tshwarelo Hunter Mogakane

Pretoria - The questions posed to Supreme Court of Appeal President Justice Mandisa Maya during her interview for the position of Deputy Chief Justice were more about the exclusion of women candidates rather than the appointment of Raymond Zondo as Chief Justice.

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This was clarified by Narend Singh, one of the commissioners of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

The Pretoria News reported yesterday that Justice Maya had said she was disappointed when President Cyril Ramaphosa snubbed her when he appointed Justice Zondo as the head of the judiciary, adding that the move had undermined the “lofty Constitution and fancy laws” enacted by Parliament.

Yesterday Singh, who had asked Justice Maya the questions, maintained that while the interactions were captured accurately, the context in which his exchange with Justice Maya was covered may have given the impression that she was against Justice Zondo’s promotion. In fact, he said, Justice Maya supported Justice Zondo’s ascension to high office in the judiciary.

The JSC commissioner, who is also an IFP chief whip, said the line of questioning was more about Ramaphosa’s failure to appoint nominated female judge candidates on three occasions rather than Justice Zondo’s suitability for the top judicial post.

“The JSC recommended capable women during interviews for the Constitutional Court in October last year. The president chose to appoint two men. Again in April this year, we recommended four people, including women, but he appointed a man. That’s what I wanted her to respond to, not the February interviews where the president appointed Zondo,” said Singh.

He said the IFP was fully behind justices Zondo and Maya working together to make the apex court function better and to empower the rights of citizens. “We certainly do not want to create an impression that President Maya is against Justice Zondo. She is a professional judge who understands that the power to appoint judges rests with the president. That is why I wanted to know how she feels about the appointment of men, but I did not include the appointment of Zondo in her place.”

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Singh said he deliberately did not want to single out Justice Zondo as that would put Justice Maya on the spot. “On Monday, President Maya did her best to show support towards Justice Zondo. She went as far as praising him for his work in support of women in the judiciary. We are only saying that the fact that the Concourt has six men and only three women should be corrected. We hope that when Maya is appointed Deputy Chief Justice we will at least have four women in the judiciary.”

In an email, Singh’s office added: “In their exchange, Commissioner Singh had highlighted that with the last three consecutive appointments to the Bench, President Ramaphosa had chosen to appoint male nominees, when Singh believed there had also been suitably-qualified women nominated for those positions.

“It was therefore a question relating to gender – rather than to Justice Zondo – and the fact that women were overlooked, that was disappointing to Justice Maya. Notwithstanding, Commissioner Singh respects the right of the President to make the final decision regarding the appointments to the Bench.”

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Office of the Chief Justice spokesperson, Lusanda Ntuli, said: “The question posed by Commissioner Singh is clear that he makes reference to the recent Constitutional Court appointments of Justices Kollapen and Mothapo in December 2021, as well as the appointment of Justice Rogers in June 2022, and not that of the Chief Justice.”

Pretoria News