Zuma case against CJ appointment 'not unreasonable'
‘Legal nonsense’, ‘unreasonable’ and ‘incredibly weak’ are some of the terms used to describe former President Jacob Zuma’s Constitutional Court bid to challenge his successor’s appointment of Chief Justice Raymond Zondo as head of the judiciary.
As previously reported, the Jacob Zuma Foundation announced last week that the former President, who has a long-standing feud with Justice Zondo has filed papers at the apex court seeking to review and set aside Zondo’s appointment of the Chief Justice by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
According to a City Press report, Zuma argues, among other reasons, that Ramaphosa's decision to appoint Zondo was irrational because he disregarded the advice of the JSC, which had recommended Deputy Chief Justice Mandisa Maya for the position.
Zuma also points out that Zondo received fewer votes than Maya from the JSC commissioners during the interview process.
According to legal experts, Zuma’s application is bound to fail spectacularly.
High Court attorney Richard Chemaly believes that Zuma won’t succeed. He reportedly told City Press that Zuma's application is ‘legal nonsense’.
He said Zuma's arguments were based on the claim that the JSC interview process was unfair, but that this was a very weak argument.
As also reported, constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos concurs, saying that any lawyer who would represent the former President in his application would be ‘brazen’ to ‘advance such mendacious legal arguments on behalf of their equally mendacious client, knowing there is zero chance that the challenge will succeed’.
Chemaly also suggested that Zuma's legal bid could be an attempt to get access to Ramaphosa's decision-making record in order to build a political narrative around the appointment of Zondo.
He said: ‘I do, however, think that the goal here isn't to win the case, but to get documents in discovery. I think he knows he won't succeed in doing that (setting aside Zondo’s appointment) but this does strike me as the makings of drawing out as much information and documentation as possible to build a political narrative.’
Some have questioned whether Zuma is a vexatious litigant.
Chemaly believes that Zuma has the right to approach the courts, but noted if Zuma is seen to be impeding the administration of justice, he could possibly be declared a vexatious litigant, reports City Press.
He said: ‘There is a reason for the courts to be accessible and even if Zuma goes all in on litigation, so long as it does not delay justice, it is often a good outcome to gain legal certainty.’
Noting the Vexatious Proceedings Act has been in force since 1956, and all it requires is an application to the court to satisfy the court that a party ‘has persistently and with no reasonable ground instituted legal proceedings.’
He said: ‘In this case, although I think his case is incredibly weak, I don't think it's unreasonable.’
Article disclaimer: While we have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of this article, it is not intended to provide final legal advice as facts and situations will differ from case to case, and therefore specific legal advice should be sought with a lawyer.