Home Opinion and Features Zuma takes on nation’s top judge

Zuma takes on nation’s top judge


Former president Jacob Zuma has fired another salvo at his successor, Cyril Ramaphosa, as he seeks to overturn Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s appointment as the country’s top judge.

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. File picture: Timothy Bernard, Independent Newspapers

FORMER president Jacob Zuma has fired another salvo at his successor, Cyril Ramaphosa, as he seeks to overturn Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s appointment as the country’s top judge.

Zuma amended his submissions to the North Gauteng, Pretoria, High Court this week and restated his plans to oust Justice Zondo and reverse the decision to overlook Deputy Chief Justice Mandisa Maya.

The ex-president wants Zondo’s appointment declared irrational, unconstitutional and unlawful.

In addition, Zuma wants Judge Zondo to return the money he has earned since he became chief justice in March last year.

Zuma accused Ramaphosa of breaching his legally obtained rights to his dignity.

According to Zuma, Zondo was prepared to rely on “alleged unreliable evidence of unidentified authors of books, for the false view that the Guptas were in Polokwane or in the vicinity thereof. This is completely false”.

Zuma described Justice Zondo as prima facie unfit to hold the office as South Africa’s leading jurist.

”He unnecessarily indulges in political commentary which is prohibited for members of the judiciary, let alone the chief justice. For example, there is no other person who has ever used the term ‘Gupta-Zuma’ state capture. It is his own politically loaded invention,” the former president said.

Zuma said the impugned conduct by Ramaphosa had been ongoing, continuing and was likely to have repeated adverse effects

“Should these remarks be disputed, an audio recording of the speech and television interview will be provided.”

Zuma said: “The president made the appointment against the views expressed by and/or recommendations made by the JSC and/or the majority of the leaders of political parties. The president failed to consult each of those bodies within the proper interpretation of the word ‘consult’ in Section 174(3) of the Constitution.“

Zuma told Independent Media that Ramaphosa, the Judicial Service Commission and Judge Zondo had not responded to his amended court papers.

Zuma previously indicated that Ramaphosa and the JSC had produced an incomplete record of the documents behind Ramaphosa’s decision to appoint Judge Zondo as the nation’s chief justice.

Jacob Zuma Foundation spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi said: “It has also emerged that Judge Zondo received only three votes, compared to 19 votes for Judge Maya, making him the worst performer. He was also the only candidate to receive a serious adverse character comment from the JSC which remarked that ‘efficiency and discipline did not appear to be his strengths’.“

He said the legal challenge would give Ramaphosa the opportunity to justify his conduct, failing which it must be declared unconstitutional and set aside.

”The court will also be asked to refer his ongoing aggravating conduct of crossing the line by dabbling in political commentary, which is legally forbidden for members of the judiciary, to the JSC for investigation and disciplinary action,” he said.

Meanwhile, had it not been for a death in his family, Zuma would have come face to face with Ramaphosa on Friday when he address the South African National Civics Organisation (Sanco)’s national elective conference held in Durban.

Zuma, however, was in mourning following the death of his sister in-law Thembekile MaXulu Zuma, the wife of his late brother Michael Zuma. She was buried on Saturday.

A source told the Sunday Tribune that the MaXulu’s death prevented Zuma from coming to Durban for the national conference, which Ramaphosa addressed.

If it was not for the death, Zuma would have also addressed the delegates in his capacity as the provincial chairperson.

“It was deputy provincial chairperson (Lawrence Dube) who delivered the speech on Zuma’s behalf. Even last week he could not attend the provincial conference but was elected in absentia,” said the source.

Speaking at the conference on Friday, Ramaphosa attributed the ANC’s loss of support in the 2021 local government to the divisions within Sanco, one of the party’s tripartite alliance partners.

Ramaphosa said he hoped that the conference held at the Durban Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre would put aside differences within its leadership.

“All of us in the alliance know the price of disunity as when you were disunited we did pay a very heavy price.

“We saw in the 2021 elections you were missing in action and that is the price we paid as the alliance because had you been there working side-by-side with the ANC, the party (SACP) and Cosatu, the outcome would have been far different,” said Ramaphosa.

He was optimistic that with Sanco leaders being united, the ANC would reclaim its lost support.

“Now in 2024 zizobe zijikile izinto (things will change), and I am certain that as you are rebuilding and putting in place the structures of Sanco, the challenges that face us now will diminish and with Sanco working side-by-side with us, we will be victorious,” Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa and some of the party’s senior leaders and Cabinet ministers, including Gwede Mantashe, deputy secretary-general Nomvula Mokonyane and treasurer-general Gwen Ramokgopa visited key sites in KZN and inspected newly developed infrastructure.

Ramaphosa officially opened the Dr Pixley Ka Isaka Seme Memorial Hospital in KwaMashu, and visited Richards Bay in the north coast to inspect congestion on the N2 highway caused by trucks delivering coal to the local harbour.

He also visited the Bhekindoda water scheme in Jozini, and went on a walk-about at a local mall in the Umzimkhulu Municipality while interacting with local community members and traditional leaders.

Ramaphosa will officially launch the ANC election campaign during next year’s January 8 statement rally apparently to be held in Mpumalanga where the election manifesto would also be announced.

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