Zuma wants President Cyril Ramaphosa to kick out Judge Raymond Zondo from being chief justice

Former president Jacob Zuma and President Cyril Ramaphosa. File picture: African New Agency Archives

Former president Jacob Zuma and President Cyril Ramaphosa. File picture: African New Agency Archives

Published May 4, 2023


Former president Jacob Zuma has written a letter through his legal team to President Cyril Ramaphosa to remove Judge Raymond Zondo from the position of chief justice.

Zuma is citing that Ramaphosa was irrational when he appointed Zondo to his current position.

Ramaphosa appointed Zondo in April last year after consultation with the Judicial Service Commission and leaders of parties in the National Assembly on four nominees, Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga, Justice Mandisa Maya, Justice Dunstan Mlambo and Zondo.

Zuma, through Ntanga Nkuhlu Inc Attorneys, said during the JSC interviews, one of the pertinent issues raised and which should have disqualified Zondo was his clearly untruthful and dishonest account of meetings privately held with Zuma.

“Among several other disqualifying factors is the fact that Zondo had at the time and still does continue to ignore an application brought by Zuma against his non-recusal from sitting as chairperson of the so-called State Capture Commission in respect of his appearance and/or participation in those proceedings and based on, inter alia, the previous relationships and other dealings between Zondo and Zuma,” said the attorneys.

The attorneys further said: “Our client also have reason to believe that Zondo was correctly ranked last by the JSC following its post-interview deliberations. This means that, in the independent view of the JSC, all the other three nominees performed far better than Zondo and he was determined to be the least suitable or an unsuitable candidate. It is therefore inexplicable and seemingly irrational that you nevertheless elected to ignore or overlook the informed recommendations of the JSC in making the relevant appointment.”

The attorneys said the appointment was irrational in that Ramaphosa defied the requirements of gender transformation as prescribed in Section 174(2) of the Constitution by overlooking Maya who had in any event performed far better than Zondo.

“Judge Maya was also the only suitable candidate in that she had passed the threshold of 12 or more votes for appointment to the position of chief justice or any other judicial vacancy. At a bare minimum our clients deserve to be furnished with reasons justifying such apparently irrational conduct on your part,” said the attorneys.

“Our client has instructed us to demand, as we hereby do, that you reverse your illegal decision(s) to appoint Zondo as chief justice and to ignore or overlook the recommendations of the JSC. Such conduct was clearly in violation of your constitutional obligations conferred in terms of Section 178, read with Section 83 of the Constitution. You are required to do so on or before May 11.

“Second, we are instructed to demand, as we hereby do, that you furnish our clients with the reasons which led to your aforesaid ostensibly irrational decision(s) and/or conduct and to do so by the date referred to in the preceding paragraph.

“Failure to comply with any or all the above-mentioned demands will result in our clients instituting urgent legal proceedings in the appropriate court without giving any further notice to you.

“Please treat this matter with seriousness which it deserves given the nature of the issue raised above,” said the attorneys.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said as the Presidency, they were of the view this latest missive from Zuma was another element of his broader harassment campaign aimed at the president.

“Beneath Mr Zuma's guise of a self-proclaimed and righteous guardian of our constitutional democracy is a contemptuous denial of President Ramaphosa’s leadership of the governing party and the country.

“Mr Zuma continues to demonstrate his scornful attitude towards democratic processes that do not pander to his desires and whims. His derision towards the country’s democratic institutions and legal processes continues unabated and knows no boundaries.

“The president will not waste any of his time considering such illogical demands. Mr Zuma can continue with another frivolous court action if he so desires,” Magwenya said.

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