Zuma delays appointment of Chief Justice

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pretoria - The appointment of the country's new Chief Justice to replace the incumbent Sandile Ngcobo will be delayed to allow for meaningful consultation with various sectors of society, President Jacob Zuma announced on Friday.

He said the announcement of the new Chief Justice will be shortly after Ngcobo had vacated office when his term ends on 14 August.

"I have decided to delay the appointment in order to give greater effect to the provisions of Section 174 (3) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. Such provisions enjoin me to make my decision on such an appointment after having consulted with the Judicial Service Commission as well as the leaders of political parties in the National Assembly," Zuma said.

He was satisfied that the interest of justice and that of broader society would be better served if the Presidency allowed more time for meaningful consultation on the matter.

"I am equally satisfied that in the intervening period, the delay in the appointment of the new Chief Justice will not adversely affect the work of the judiciary."

Zuma, who was speaking at the government meeting with media owners, used the opportunity to address what he called "unfortunate reporting" by the media on the issues surrounding the extension of Ngcobo's term as the country's top judge.

The Constitutional Court last week found the section of the law that was used to extend the term of office for judges to be invalid. Ngcobo had earlier withdrawn his acceptance of the extension of his term after the row erupted.

On Friday, Zuma said his office was concerned as the reporting created an impression that the Presidency may have infringed the law.

"We state again for the record that the extension of the term of office for the Chief Justice was done in terms of an existing law, that was passed by Parliament unanimously 10 years ago... The section of the law we used was valid until it was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court. It was unfortunate that the media chose to misrepresent the facts in this case," he said.