South African Government

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Nomination of Justice Sandile Ngcobo as Chief Justice letter sent by President Jacob Zuma to opposition parties

19 Aug 2009

Honourable P de Lille
Leader: Independent Democrats

Thank you for your letter of 10 August 2009, co-signed by the leaders of the Democratic Alliance (DA), Congress of the People (Cope) and Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), refers.

In my address to the National Press Club on 6 August 2009, I announced my decision to nominate Justice Sandile Ngcobo as the new Chief Justice. I further said that this nomination was subject to advice from the Judicial Services Commission and leaders of political parties represented in the National Assembly.

The use of the word appoint in response to a question from the media present, was inadvertent and does not change the fact that I had decided merely to nominate Justice Ngcobo to this position. It is common cause that you first nominate and then open the consultative process.

Our reading of the Constitutional provisions regarding the appointment process does not preclude the President from proposing a name. In fact, the practice as followed in the past has generally been for the President to ask the parties to state their views on a particular name.

Please rest assured that I have not appointed a new Chief Justice, nor have I taken a final decision on whom to appoint as the new Chief Justice, but reiterate my confidence in Justice Ngcobo as my preferred candidate. In making my final decision, I will of course take into account any views the leaders of political parties may express about him.

I look forward to continue working with all political parties represented in Parliament on this and all other matters that are in the national interest, as stated in both the State of the Nation Address and the budget vote of the Presidency in June this year.

Yours sincerely,
MR JG Zuma
President of the Republic of South Africa

Enquiries:
Vincent Magwenya
Cell: 082 835 6315

Issued by: The Presidency
19 August 2009