EDITORIAL | Zondo can use his celebrity to build bridges
New chief justice has the opportunity to open the channels of communication between the judiciary and the public
When acting chief justice Raymond Zondo was being interviewed for the position of chief justice, he was greeted by an adoring group of “fans” who all wanted to take pictures with him during the lunch break. For the journalists who had watched four candidates being interviewed in the same hotel for three days before him, it was a strange sight to see a judicial officer being mobbed by a group of people attending a conference. Zondo graciously agreed to be photographed, delaying his lunch.
This interaction reveals the unique position that Zondo finds himself in, having spent four years marshalling the proceedings of the state capture commission of inquiry. During that four-year period, he also found himself inadvertently welcomed into the homes of South Africans on an almost weekly basis. Zondo’s fame places him in the unique position of being a household name across the country, and he can use his position as incoming chief justice to not only lead the judiciary, but also to do work to improve the public perception of it.
Whether legitimate or not, there are some sectors of society that see the judiciary as corrupt. There is also an element of mystery around it, which is justified considering the judiciary must keep a distance from many political issues. However the office of the chief justice, which Zondo will lead, has a role to play in communicating effectively with the public on the work done by the judiciary, caseflow issues, funding concerns, capacity issues which affect litigants directly and infrastructure at courts...