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People right to question my appointment – CJ

Publish date: 10 June 2019
Issue Number: 827
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: South Africa

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, who quickly gave the lie to the widely held view that he was parachuted into high office to serve the interests of the man who nominated him – the then President Jacob Zuma – admits people had good reason to be suspicious. They were right to question if there was an agenda behind it, he reportedly told the Sunday Times in a wide-ranging interview. Mogoeng acknowledged there may have been an ‘undisclosed expectation’ for him to serve the interests of those who appointed him. ‘Some people may have said, “I think this one will be shocked at being appointed to such a position of high responsibility so he probably is forever indebted to me. So let me appoint this one, I don't think I will ever have a problem telling him or her what to do and what not to do”,' Mogoeng is quoted as saying. That Zuma picked him over then Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke was seen as a nadir in the politicising of the apex court. And Mogoeng doesn't disagree, says the Sunday Times. ‘I think it is not unreasonable for an average South African to think, “Really, what is it about this boy that would justify him being nominated over more senior colleagues in terms of age in particular and others in terms of experience”,' he says. But even if there was a nefarious agenda behind Mogoeng's appointment, any expectation of payback would have been short-lived. ‘I am a very blunt person. I am upfront. We can be sitting like this and I will say to you, "If you ever think I will bend over backward to do something wrong just to accommodate you, just forget about it",' he says.

Full Sunday Times interview (subscription needed)