President Cyril Ramaphosa has, in accordance with Section 174(3) of the Constitution, decided to appoint Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo as the next Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa with effect from 1 April 2022.
The President’s decision follows consultation with the Judicial Service Commission and leaders of parties in the National Assembly on four nominees for appointment as Chief Justice.
In terms of the Constitution, the Chief Justice is “the head of the judiciary and exercises responsibility over the establishment and monitoring of norms and standards for the exercise of the judicial functions of all courts”.
With Justice Zondo assuming the position of Chief Justice, the position of Deputy Chief Justice will become vacant. President Ramaphosa has accordingly indicated his intention, once the new Chief Justice assumes office, to nominate Justice Mandisa Maya for the position of Deputy Chief Justice. This nomination will be subject to the process outlined in Section 174(3) of the Constitution.
In September 2021, President Ramaphosa invited public nominations for the position of Chief Justice. The President appointed a panel, chaired by Judge Navanethem Pillay, to evaluate nominations made by the public and to shortlist nominees who fulfilled the advertised requirements for nomination.
After considering the Report of the Nomination Panel, President Ramaphosa identified the following candidates for consideration for appointment:
- Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga
- Justice Mandisa Maya
- Justice Dunston Mlambo
- Justice Raymond Zondo
The President then invited the Judicial Service Commission and leaders of parties in the National Assembly to express their views regarding the suitability of any of the four nominees for appointment as Chief Justice.
President Ramaphosa expressed his gratitude to each of the nominees for making themselves available for the position of the head of the judiciary. He also expressed his gratitude to the Judicial Service Commission, the leaders of political parties, the members of the nomination panel and the many South Africans who submitted nominations.
“The inclusive process of selecting the next Chief Justice demonstrated not only the value that South Africans place on the judiciary, but also the depth of experience and capability within the senior ranks of the judiciary,” President Ramaphosa said.
“The position of Chief Justice carries a great responsibility in our democracy. As the head of the judiciary, the Chief Justice is a guardian of our Constitution and the laws adopted by the freely elected representatives of the people. The Chief Justice stand as the champion of the rights of all South Africans and bears responsibility for ensuring equal access to justice. I have every confidence that Justice Zondo will acquit himself with distinction in this position.”
Justice Zondo was first appointed as a judge of the Labour Court in 1997 and was Judge President of the Labour and Labour Appeals courts between 2000 and 2010. He has been a judge of the Constitutional Court since 2012 and was appointed as Deputy Chief Justice in 2017. He holds a BJuris degree from the University of Zululand and obtained his LLB from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He also holds an LLM (cum laude) from the University of South Africa and another with a specialisation in commercial law.