Monday, August 10, 2009

Zuma 'abused his power'

Four opposition leaders accused President Jacob Zuma in an open letter on Monday of abuse of power following his nomination of Sandile Ngcobo as chief justice.

The Democratic Alliance, Congress of the People, Independent Democrats and the Inkatha Freedom Party released another joint statement on Monday, following up on their complaint issued on Friday.

DA leader Helen Zille, COPE leader Terror Lekota, ID leader Patricia de Lille and IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi are charging that Ngcobo's nomination was unconstitutional.

This was because Zuma announced his nomination before consulting the parties, as is required by the constitution.

"Not to consult the members of these institutions would result in the appointment being made entirely at the discretion of the head of the executive; a situation which lends itself to the abuse of power," the parties said.

This "runs the risk that the chief justice and those candidates eligible for the position of chief justice might act in a manner designed to find favour with the president".

It was necessary to consult widely before the chief justice was appointed because, "by consulting widely, one naturally gathers more information and opinion than was initially available," said the parties.

The parties said Zuma's office did send them communication around the matter - but only after he had announced Ngcobo's nomination.

"The fact that your communication arrived after your public announcement to this effect, suggests to us, that to provide you with our considered opinion now would fall short of the intended purpose of consultation."

But Zuma's office has denied that there was anything unconstitutional in nominating Ngcobo to succeed Pius Langa, who retires later this year.

It was only a nomination, and not an appointment, the presidency said in a statement posted on its website.

"The president has nominated someone for the position of chief justice. There is nothing in the Constitution or law that prevents the president from indicating who his nominee is," the presidency said.

Zuma said his announcement on Thursday was only the beginning of a constitutional process.

"The president has initiated processes to consult with the Judicial Service Commission and the leaders represented in the National Assembly on his nominee, as required by the constitution," the presidency said. - Sapa
From IOL

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