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Judicial Service Commission needs credibility overhaul

The Times Editorial | 2012-08-16 00:49:25.0

The Times Editorial: The appointment of Ray Zondo as a Constitutional Court judge was widely expected. According to judiciary insiders and observers, there was little doubt that Zondo would ascend to the highest court in the land.

The surprise was the Judicial Service Commission's short-list of four candidates for the president's consideration, not Zondo's candidacy alone.

But the commission, which has been severely criticised for its inept handling of a range of issues, perhaps felt it necessary to lump Zuma with the decision rather than stick its neck out.

There has been, correctly, much criticism of the commission and how it has dealt with contentious issues, such as race, and controversial judges, such as John Hlophe.

The fact that the judicial review announced earlier this year by Minister Jeff Radebe did not include a review of the commission's work was disappointing.

Instead, the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal were identified as the two courts that needed to be reviewed. They have been the targets of much of the anti-judiciary rhetoric of the ANC.

Zuma's appointment of Zondo is particularly disappointing given the quality of at least two of the other candidates: Supreme Court judges Mandisa Maya and Robert Nugent.

Many had hoped that Zuma would choose Maya, the only female nominee, because the Constitutional Court has only two women judges.

But Zondo has prevailed and the suspicion will doubtless linger that it was a done deal all along.

The appointment raises the concern that, because the ANC government would find it difficult to alter radically the workings of the Constitutional Court - to which several of its senior leaders are so vehemently opposed - it will find alternative ways of dealing with it.

Such as appointing judges who support the views of the party.

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