South Africa: Judicial Service Commission Must Be Reformed to Reduce the Influence of Political Parties On the Appointment of Judges

The first step is a set of clear, publicly available criteria that will guide the Judicial Service Commission’s selection, interview and advisory processes.

During his testimony as ANC President to the State Capture Commission, President Cyril Ramaphosa spoke about how the ANC’s Operations Committee would recommend judges for various courts. The minutes of the ANC meeting have now been published.

The meeting to which Ramaphosa was referring took place on March 22, 2019 (nine days before the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) meeting of April 1-4, 2019). The minutes show that then Justice Minister Michael Masutha informed the ANC of the candidates for the various courts (including the Constitutional Court), and the ANC Task Force Committee made recommendations on its preferred candidates.

As we said in a previous comment (see here), it was not the intention of the constitution drafters to instruct JSC parliamentary representatives from the ANC’s Operations Committee to appoint judges and then vote accordingly. Although other political parties can elect their proposed candidates as members of parliament, only the ANC was named, which uses a high-level political structure and then the members of the …

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