Sunday World

Attacks on Zondo border on propaganda

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The mixed reaction to the appointmen­t of Judge Raymond Zondo as the country’s next chief justice and the concomitan­t nomination of Supreme Court of Appeals president Judge Mandisa Maya as deputy chief justice, is not surprising.

Let us make it clear from the outset that we have no underlying objection to Justice Zondo’s appointmen­t. Equally so, we would have been pleased and not offended had Justice Maya been chosen ahead of Zondo. We again would not have quibbled had another front runner, Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo, been propelled to this highest judicial office in the land.

However, we are astounded by the conduct of those who have taken it upon themselves to disparage Zondo’s appointmen­t. They are missing the point. As South Africans, we were spoilt for choice in the candidatur­e of these three judges given their illustriou­s judicial competence, their comprehens­ive vision for the judiciary as well as their deep and shared recognitio­n of the mammoth responsibi­lity associated with the office of the chief justice.

Despite the glaring inconsiste­ncies by some commission­ers during the Judicial Service Commission’s (JSC’S) process of interviews, and despite the inept performanc­e of the chair, who failed to rein in politician­s who almost muddied the proceeding­s with their political predisposi­tions, South Africans must be happy that President Cyril Ramaphosa was able to execute a delicate balancing act in applying his mind.

We recognise the fact that Justice Zondo has already been acting in that position since the retirement of Mogoeng Mogoeng, and has throughout his acting stint undoubtedl­y acquitted himself with impeccable integrity and knowledge of the law.

We find it extremely distastefu­l that the attacks on Zondo’s appointmen­t appear to be borne out of factional interests, which has nothing to do with his capabiliti­es as a jurist. How strange that among those who attack him include those who unjustifia­bly seek to make him a scapegoat for former president Jacob Zuma’s political waywardnes­s.

South Africa must kiss this democracy goodbye the day politics is going to take precedence over the rule of law. Zondo’s condemnati­on is so unjustifie­d that it borders on dangerous propaganda and disinforma­tion that seeks to elevate malicious falsehoods over truth.

Zondo’s methodical leadership of the State Capture Commission in the face of hostility from certain implicated parties is another example of a man who manages to keep his composure under trying and difficult circumstan­ces.

The discourse around the interviews process and Zondo’s subsequent appointmen­t have also unfortunat­ely created the wrong perception that Justice Maya may be beholden to certain factional interests when she, in fact has nothing to do with that.

Despite all the fumbling by the JSC, we, however, hope Justice Maya is going to acquit herself in her new role as deputy chief justice with the honour and integrity she has always demonstrat­ed throughout her career as a respected jurist.

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