OPINION

DA congratulates Judge Zondo on his ConCourt appointment

Dene Smuts says opportunity missed to appoint female judge to highest bench

DA congratulates Judge Zondo on his ConCourt appointment

The DA congratulates Judge Raymond Zondo on his appointment to the Constitutional Court. Judge Zondo is a good and experienced judge who has made his mark in the Labour and Labour Appeal Courts and also with judgements such as the well-reasoned ruling in the recent Sishen Iron Ore case.

We do consider the President's choice a  missed opportunity to appoint an eminently qualified, highly respected female judge to the highest bench, where women are underrepresented, but it was clear from the Judicial Service Commission interviews that the choice lay between Judges Zondo and Maya and the final choice is the President's prerogative.

In our submissions to President Zuma on short-listed candidates for the Constitutional Court vacancy left by the retirement of former Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo, we argued that all four nominees, including Judge Zondo, were legally and technically qualified and have appropriate experience in presiding over our courts.

We did, however, express a preference for the appointment of Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Mandisa Maya - based on her proven independence of mind, her reputation for integrity and the fact that she has shown that she is not afraid to hand down dissenting judgements. We also argued that a number of her judgments have demonstrated her grasp of constitutional issues and the need to balance the enforcement of constitutional rights against the need for government to fulfil its mandate.

We trust that, despite earlier indications that Judge Zondo has been earmarked for the vacancy, President Zuma did indeed consider our submission, as well as the submissions made by the legal fraternity and other political parties - almost all of which supported Judge Maya.

We do, however, recognise the President's constitutional prerogative  to make an appointment to the Constitutional Court and appreciate his decision to allow for greater consultation on this matter than has been customary in the past.

Statement issued by Dene Smuts MP, DA Shadow Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, August 14 2012

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