EFF leader Julius Malema has accused Pres. Zuma of overlooking Justice Bess Nkabinde for the position of Deputy Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court.
Malema has labelled the move as “anti-women empowerment and development”.
Zuma announced on Friday that he has nominated Justice Raymond Zondo to the position left vacant by Dikgang Moseneke, who retired last year.
Malema, in an open letter, said Zuma’s decision overlooked a senior, seasoned black woman in Justice Nkabinde, who has sufficient experience and who was already acting in the position.
“When you Mr Zuma spoke about women leadership of our country and that South Africa is ready to be led by a woman, we did not realise that this was limited to your ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.”
“Justice Bess Nkabinde is a capable black woman who also deserves [for] us to show confidence in her, and as a result, in all black women,” Malema said.
In the letter, Malema said the Constitution expected that the appointment of judicial officers should broadly reflect the racial and gender composition of the country.
Malema also said he hoped that Zuma was not overlooking Nkabinde to punish her for disclosing that the Judge President of the Western Cape High Court, John Hlope, had allegedly tried to influence her on a matter related to Zuma’s corruption charges.
‘Chance must be given to a black woman’
In 2008, 11 judges of the Constitutional Court lodged a complaint with the Judicial Services Commission that Hlophe had approached two of their members and tried to influence them regarding a legal matter involving Zuma. The long, drawn out legal case was eventually dismissed by the court last year.
According to the Constitution, Zuma is expected to consult with opposition parties in his proposal for a nominee for the position of Deputy Chief Justice.
However, Malema has accused him of not following the process in “good faith”, or being “fair”. He said Zuma had failed to provide good reasons for the decision to nominate Zondo.
“We are not opposed to Justice Zondo as a judge, as a matter of fact we have great confidence in him. However, it is our strong held view that the chance must be given to a black woman to inspire and advance the gender struggle against patriarchy in our judicial system and the country as a whole.”
In addition, there were other justices who had served in the Constitutional Court longer than Justice Zondo, like Justice Sisi Khampepe, who was also a black woman and a seasoned judge, Malema said.