However, that intention has been undermined in recent years as the ANC has changed the arrangements related to the JSC’s composition.
For example, the constitution prescribes that the JSC should include six members of the National Assembly, of whom three must be from opposition parties; plus four members of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). Before the Jacob Zuma era, it was customary for some of the NCOP members of the JSC to be drawn from opposition parties. Now they are all from the ANC.
Political interference has been obvious in the difficulties experienced by eminently suitable candidates such as Jeremy Gauntlett to secure JSC approval. Indeed, when the current Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng was appointed, there was widespread agreement that he was not the best choice. It was a political decision.
Now there is a hue and cry over the presence of Economic Freedom Fighters’ leader Julius Malema on the JSC. Cynics note that, considering all his problems with the law, Malema has enough experience to make decisions on who should be a judge. Yet the argument really is that because he always seems to be on the wrong side of the law he is unsuitable.
However, there is nothing in the constitution which prevents him from taking a seat on the JSC. As long as he is eligible to be an MP, he is allowed to participate in the interviewing of candidates for the bench. Much of the fuss arises simply because he is controversial.
If people are really worried about flaws in the selection of judges, they should look at how the ANC has eviscerated the JSC since the Mandela era.