By choosing acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to preside over the Constitutional Court, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has incurred the wrath of part of the opposition as well as the Zuma clan.
“I am not pro- or anti-anyone,” Raymond Zondo told the panel interrogating him about the post as president of the Constitutional Court. His critics say the judge, who turns 62 in May and has spent 25 of those years serving the judiciary, is a political animal in Ramaphosa’s pocket. Such suspicions did not dissuade the head of state from nominating Zondo, against the advice of an advisory committee.
After interviewing four candidates in February, the Judicial Service Commission and party leaders in the National Assembly recommended the nomination of Mandisa Maya, the current president of the Supreme Court of Appeal. But Ramaphosa had zero obligation to follow their advice. Maya thus becomes deputy president of the Constitutional Court, replacing Zondo, who ascends the final step to become president, ten years after joining the court. He had already been serving as acting president since the post became vacant last October.
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