Cyril Rewards Zondo

President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed Raymond Zondo as the country’s new Chief Justice, the highest ranking member in the judiciary and also head the highest court in the country, the Constitutional Court. Image: ANA

President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed Raymond Zondo as the country’s new Chief Justice, the highest ranking member in the judiciary and also head the highest court in the country, the Constitutional Court. Image: ANA

Published Mar 11, 2022


The appointment of Justice Raymond Zondo as the country's new Chief Justice has been met with mixed reaction by political parties with the EFF rejecting it as a “short-sighted, factional and uninspired decision“ while others said it would ensure continuity in the country’s apex court.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that Justice Zondo was the chosen candidate to succeed retired chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, while the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), which Ramaphosa had tasked with interviewing the four chief justice candidates, had recommended Supreme Court of Appeal Judge President Mandisa Maya, who now Ramaphosa has nominated for the position of deputy chief justice.

Ramaphosa said: “The inclusive process of selecting the next Chief Justice demonstrated not only the value that South Africans place on the judiciary, but also the depth of experience and capability within the senior ranks of the judiciary.

“The position of Chief Justice carries a great responsibility in our democracy. As the head of the judiciary, the Chief Justice is a guardian of our Constitution and the laws adopted by the freely elected representatives of the people. The Chief Justice stands as the champion of the rights of all South Africans and bears responsibility for ensuring equal access to justice. I have every confidence that Justice Zondo will acquit himself with distinction in this position.”

The Presidency said Justice Zondo’s appointment came after Ramaphosa had consulted with the JSC and political parties in Parliament.

While Cope, IFP and GOOD were among the first parties to welcome the appointment, the EFF indicated that this was the matter of Ramaphosa rewarding Justice Zondo for “treating him with kid gloves” at the State Capture Commission.

“The appointment of Raymond Zondo effectively means that the capture of our judiciary by white monopoly capital and its interests has been completed,” the party said.

The party said Justice Zondo had over the past few years imprinted himself as a politically divisive force in South African society.

Speaking about recent criticisms levelled against Justice Zondo, IFP spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said he unwittingly became an object of public scrutiny as the chairperson of the Zondo Commission.

“Justice Zondo stepped up and accepted this challenging, politically-charged assignment, and presided over the proceedings without fear, or favour. He conducted himself in a manner that was above reproach, and a credit to the judiciary. However, this commission is not the sum of Justice Zondo’s knowledge and experience. He has, over a long and distinguished career, shown himself to be a person of integrity, with the necessary skills and expertise to be fit for purpose as Chief Justice.”

Cope said Ramaphosa had made the right choice.

“The decision ensures continuity and brings stability in the office of the Chief Justice. Deputy Chief Justice Zondo is a very experienced, principled and hard-working judge. He proved himself to be a person who can stand firm on principles of the Constitution and that he cannot be easily intimidated,” said national spokesperson Dennis Bloem.

The GOOD Party said: “Judge Zondo takes the reins of the Constitutional Court at a difficult time for the judiciary, which has come under attack from certain quarters in an environment of unprecedented factionalism in the ruling party. We encourage him to continue holding organs of state to account and deepening the integrity of our judiciary which is the last bulwark against state malfeasance.”

Political analyst Professor Bheki Mngomezulu of the University of the Western Cape said the appointment of Justice Zondo by Ramaphosa raised questions.

He said constitutionally Ramaphosa was correct as it was his prerogative to make the appointment, but politically it was a bad move.

“It doesn’t augur well for us. Even before the interviews were conducted (by the Judicial Service Commission) the president and those in the president’s corner wanted Zondo to be appointed the Chief Justice at all costs. If you saw the interviews you saw that Zondo did not cut it. Constitutionally the decision is right, but politically it is not,” said Mngomezulu.