Zondo’s tenure as Chief Justice ends in just over 3 months

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo
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Outgoing Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has just more than three months left in office, before retiring. Zondo was appointed Chief Justice by President Cyril Ramaphosa, effectively from the 1st of April 2022, following the retirement of Mogoeng Mogoeng.

Sixty-four-year-old Zondo is still expected to preside over the first sitting of the 7th Parliament after the general elections. Zondo was appointed as a Constitutional Court judge by former President Jacob Zuma in August 2012. His appointment was effective from the 1st of September that year.

Twelve-years on, his non-renewable term as an Apex Court judge is expected to come to an end in August. In terms of the Constitution, a Constitutional Court judge can serve a non-renewable term of 12 years or until the age of 70, whichever comes first. Judges Matter has reflected on Zondo’s role as the country’s top judge.

“When he came in as Chief Justice, obviously he had acted as Chief Justice for over a year, so he was aware of some of the burning issues in the judiciary. He was able to deal with some. JSC is one big example where he made quite a significant impact on how that system works. But there were some unfortunately because of this time at the State Capture Commission, they did distract a bit from his role as Chief Justice because there were number of times when he came into conflict with Parliament, for example, over remarks he had made as chairperson at the State Capture Commission. So, for the public it was hard to divide his role as Chief Justice versus his role as chairperson of the State Capture Commission. And that part was unfortunate because his work as chairperson of the State Capture Commission was commendable,” says Mbekezeli Benjamin from Judges Matter.

The next Chief Justice candidate is expected to be interviewed soon.

“So, this time around President Ramaphosa kickstarted the process of selecting a new chief justice a little bit early. In February he nominated Justice [Mandisa] Maya as the sole candidate for Chief Justice. And the JSC scheduled this interview for the 21st of May where they will be interviewing Justice Maya for the position of Chief Justice. This is of course three months before the official retirement of Chief Justice Zondo and the idea behind it is that there would be a smooth transition between the two candidates,” adds Benjamin.

While Zondo’s term ends at the end of August, he is expected to conduct the swearing-in ceremony of the incoming MPs in the 7th Parliament.

He is also expected to preside over the election of the National Assembly Speaker, NCOP Chairperson and the election of the President.