President appoints Judges interviewed in October 2022 JSC round
President Ramaphosa has confirmed the appointments of judges interviewed at the Judicial Service Commission sitting in October 2022.
These judges include KwaZulu-Natal Judge President Thoba Poyo-Dlwati, the first woman to hold the leadership position in the province. She starts in the role on 16 January 2023.
Judge Tebogo Djaje, who starts her new role as North West Deputy Judge President on 2 December 2022, will also be the first woman to hold the position.
Another leadership appointment is that of Judge President Norman Manoim for the Competition Appeal Court. He will have to lead that court through new legal terrain brought about by legislative amendments that put social justice considerations at the centre of competition law. He starts on 1 December 2022.
Several other judges also start on 1 December 2022: five in the Supreme Court of Appeal, four in Gauteng High Court, and 1 in the Western Cape High Court.
New KwaZulu-Natal judges Faith Mlaba and Else-Marie Bezuidenhout start in January 2023.
Justice Dumisani Zondi will take the reins of the Electoral Court on 1 December, a week after the National Council of Provinces approved the Electoral Amendment Bill. Once signed into law by the president, it would allow independent candidates to run in national and provincial elections. No doubt the Electoral Court will get busier dealing with those legal skirmishes.
Confirming judicial appointments has been one of the Ramaphosa Administration’s key weaknesses. While it took Zuma 11 days to confirm the appointment of Chief Justice Mogoeng, Ramaphosa took 33 days to confirm Zondo. Furthermore, the Zuma Presidency would routinely issue media statements confirming all judicial appointments made. The Ramaphosa Presidency hardly ever does.
In this round of appointments, President Ramaphosa signed the official presidential minute confirming these appointments on 17 November 2022 but it wasn’t until the last 2 days of the month that most judges got confirmation that they will be working as permanent judges a day or so later. For some, it meant that there was uncertainty over whether they should take on new work to earn an income, something that might have likely landed them in trouble as both the Code of Judicial Conduct and the JSC Act prohibit judges from earning outside income upon appointment.
We have previously raised this issue as a risk of constitutional delinquency on the part of the president (see here and here), and made suggestions for reform. We hope the presidency will take this issues seriously before serious harm is done.