Zuma’s ju­di­cial mu­si­cal chairs

Is the pres­i­dent try­ing to get rid of mem­bers of the Ju­di­cial Ser­vice Com­mis­sion who ap­peared in cases that didn’t go his way? That seems to be the case, and his re­place­ments don’t all cut the mus­tard

CityPress - - News - CHARL DU PLESSIS charl.du­p­lessis@city­press.co.za

Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s de­ci­sion to re­place some of the most se­nior com­mis­sion­ers on the Ju­di­cial Ser­vice Com­mis­sion (JSC) just weeks be­fore the body meets to in­ter­view a fresh crop of judges has raised some eye­brows within the le­gal pro­fes­sion. Three top se­nior coun­sel City Press in­ter­viewed said that while the three can­di­dates Zuma is con­sid­er­ing des­ig­nat­ing to the JSC are not un­known, they are not of the level of se­nior­ity one would usu­ally ex­pect of pres­i­den­tial des­ig­nates to the body.

The coun­sel that City Press spoke to said the two ad­vo­cates nom­i­nated were in­de­pen­dent-minded peo­ple of in­tegrity.

On Fri­day, the pres­i­dency an­nounced that Zuma was con­sid­er­ing des­ig­nat­ing ad­vo­cates Thandi Nor­man, Tha­bani Ma­suku and at­tor­ney Si­fiso Msomi as the per­sons to serve on the com­mis­sion.

Msomi, re­port­edly an at­tor­ney from KwaZulu-Natal, is the least known of the three.

In terms of the Con­sti­tu­tion, the pres­i­dent must first con­sult the lead­ers of all par­ties in the Na­tional Assem­bly be­fore he makes this ap­point­ment, hence the em­pha­sis on the fact that he is “con­sid­er­ing” the ap­point­ment.

But what has caused mur­murs in le­gal cor­ri­dors is the iden­tity of the com­mis­sion­ers be­ing re­placed.

The only pres­i­den­tial des­ig­nate who has not been given march­ing or­ders is Lindi Nkosi-Thomas, the ad­vo­cate who rep­re­sented Baleka Mbete, speaker of the Na­tional Assem­bly, in the Con­sti­tu­tional Court hear­ing on the Nkandla scan­dal. SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­words MISS SA and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name and prov­ince. SMSes cost R1.50

Nkosi-Thomas’s per­for­mance in the face of tough ques­tions from judges in re­gard to whether Par­lia­ment had failed in its over­sight of the ex­ec­u­tive made head­lines and caused a stir on so­cial me­dia.

Du­misa Nt­se­beza SC, one of the most well-known and highly re­spected ad­vo­cates in South Africa, who was a com­mis­sioner dur­ing the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion, is, how­ever, one of those who has been given march­ing or­ders. Nt­se­beza was also one of the JSC’s two spokesper­sons.

Ish­mael Se­menya SC, another of the pres­i­den­tial des­ig­nates who will be leav­ing, is a se­nior ad­vo­cate promi­nently in­volved in the lead­er­ship of the ad­vo­cates’ pro­fes­sion.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Zuma is re­plac­ing Andiswa Ndoni, known for be­ing a quiet JSC com­mis­sioner who asked rel­e­vant ques­tions with­out much of the po­lit­i­cal grand­stand­ing that can some­times char­ac­terise JSC in­ter­views.

Spec­u­la­tion is rife within the le­gal pro­fes­sion that the move came af­ter Nt­se­beza and Se­menya both took on briefs that could be re­garded as con­trary to Zuma’s in­ter­ests.

Nt­se­beza acted for the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fighters in the short­lived at­tempt by Zuma to in­ter­dict the re­lease of the Public Pro­tec­tor’s state cap­ture re­port. Zuma later in­structed his at­tor­neys to with­draw the ap­pli­ca­tion.

Se­menya was one of three ad­vo­cates, in­clud­ing Jeremy Gauntlett and Steven Budlen­der, who pro­vided le­gal opin­ions on the Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Cen­tre Act, stat­ing that the bill was con­sti­tu­tional, con­trary to the pres­i­dent’s as­ser­tions that it wasn’t.

Ac­cord­ing to the cab-rank rule, which ap­plies in re­spect of the pro­fes­sion in South Africa, ad­vo­cates are obliged to ac­cept work in the field in which they spe­cialise if they are avail­able.

The JSC will again con­duct in­ter­views for judges be­tween April 3 and 7.

Nom­pumelelo Mam­pholo

Adè van Heer­den

GONE Du­misa Nt­se­beza

OUT Ish­mael Se­menya

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