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JSC endorses Maya as next Chief Justice and Zondi as next SCA Vice President

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has resolved to support President Cyril Ramaphosa's selection of Deputy Chief Justice Mandisa Maya as the next Chief Justice of South Africa.  (Melinda Stuurman/Netwerk24)

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has resolved to support President Cyril Ramaphosa’s selection of Deputy Chief Justice Mandisa Maya as the next Chief Justice of South Africa. (Melinda Stuurman/Netwerk24)

  • The JSC has endorsed Deputy Chief Justice Mandisa Maya as the next Chief Justice of South Africa.
  • She was previously chosen as the JSC’s preferred candidate but lost to Raymond Zondo.
  • The JSC also recommended that the president of the Electoral Tribunal, Dumisani Zondi, be appointed vice-president of the SCA.

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has resolved to support President Cyril Ramaphosa’s selection of Deputy Chief Justice Mandisa Maya as the next Chief Justice of South Africa.

Maya becomes the first woman appointed to the position, after becoming the first judge to serve as President of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).

She was previously chosen as the JSC’s preferred candidate for the vacant chief justice, when the commission interviewed four senior judges for the position, but ultimately lost to Raymond Zondo.

As mentioned in her first interview with the Chief Justice, Maya stressed on Tuesday that South Africa had experienced a series of upheavals and needed a judiciary that had the trust and beliefs of ordinary people.

He told the JSC that much work remained to be done to ensure that the judicial administration functioned as effectively as possible.

His vision of how this should be done was the result of consultations among many other judicial officials, with the independence of the judiciary being a central element.

Maya acknowledged the “undue delays” in the processing of complaints filed against judges “that can erode confidence in the judiciary.” She also highlighted the “significant reduction over the years of judicial officers’ salaries” and the failure to grant increases “at least commensurate with inflation.”

She believed that more attention needed to be paid to the safety and well-being of judicial officers.

Maya admitted that while she was initially encouraged by the experience of running the well-functioning SCA, she now recognized that there was “nothing attractive” about the position of Chief Justice as “it’s too difficult.” She said that she now had a much more experienced perspective on that role, but that she believed she could do this job.

The JSC also recommended that Electoral Tribunal president Dumisani Zondi, whose decision that Jacob Zuma was eligible to serve as an MP was overturned by the Constitutional Court on Monday, be appointed SCA deputy president.

Zondi served 10 years in the SCA and has been president of the Electoral Tribunal since November 2022.

However, writing on behalf of the Electoral Tribunal in a ruling that the South African Electoral Commission successfully appealed, Zondi concluded that Zuma could not be said to have been “sentenced” under section 47(1)(e) of the Constitution because he had not been able to appeal.

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said on Tuesday he agreed with Zondi that the remission of Zuma’s sentence had no impact on the fact that he had been sentenced to 15 months for contempt.

But he asked Zondi how he could have been “so wrong” about his conclusion that the ruling did not disqualify Zuma from holding office in Parliament.

Zondi responded that “there is no right or wrong answer” when it comes to statute interpretation.

“Remember that you are dealing with words here and that you have to determine the legislature’s intent from the words used in the statute. Therefore, a party analyzing the same statute comes to a different conclusion. There is no guarantee that two people interpreting a statute come to the same conclusion about the meaning of the statute because it is not a scientific approach, it is not a question of one plus one equals two,” he said.

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