Search for next chief justice intensifies as Mogoeng Mogoeng’s term ends soon
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Pretoria - Nominations from the public as to who should be the next chief justice close today.
And next week, the Judicial Service Commission will hold interviews for the vacancies in the various superior courts, including the Constitutional Court.
The commission this week confirmed that it would rerun the interviews held in April, after the Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution challenged those interviews.
The positions of, among others, at least four Constitutional Court judges as well as that of the chief justice have to be filled.
The term of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng ends on October 11, although he has been on long leave since May.
The Constitution empowers the president to appoint the next chief justice. President Cyril Ramaphosa a week ago invited the public to put forward their nominations, which would be considered for possible interviews.
Judges Matter, a transparency project that believes in the importance of judges, published a series of articles over the past few months about the position of chief justice and its importance.
In the latest in the series, it looked at the potential candidates for this position.
It said chief justices had always been appointed from among the ranks of current Constitutional Court judges.
“However, not all Constitutional Court judges would have held formal judicial leadership positions, and this might be a reason why an appointment could be made from a different pool of candidates.
“If the increasing administrative load carried by the chief justice is felt to make administrative experience an essential requirement, it is possible that the selection could be made from outside the pool of Constitutional Court judges,” it said.
According to Judges Matter, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo might seem like an obvious choice to be the next chief justice, but this is not guaranteed.
It said it has not been the recent practice for the deputy chief justice to succeed the chief justice automatically.
Also, Justice Zondo has only about three years of his tenure remaining. The feeling may be, it is said, that the new chief justice needs to spend a longer time in this office.
Chief Justice Mogoeng served for 10 years after taking office in September 2011.
According to Judges Matter, Justice Zondo’s role as the chair of the state capture commission of inquiry may also have an impact on the political considerations of his appointment.
However, he is considered an experienced jurist, who has been a judge of the Constitutional Court since 2012 and was appointed deputy chief justice in 2017.
When the tenures of justices Sisi Khampepe, Chris Jafta and Mogoeng come to an end this year, Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga will become the most senior judge in the Constitutional Court after Justice Zondo, Judges Matter reported.
It said he was a highly regarded jurist and likely to be considered for leadership positions, “if not for the imminent vacancy of the chief justice position, then certainly in future”.