Together with Justice Chris Jafta, Zondo is considered part of the growing trend of “legal formalism” (adjudication that appears enthralled by the technical aspects of the law, rather than its more philosophical aspects and how the latter are connected to the Constitution and its vision) at the Constitutional Court.
“In political and legal circles Zondo had long been considered a Zuma administration favourite for the Constitutional Court before his eventual appointment in 2012.
He was criticised in several quarters, including by the General Council of the Bar (GCB), which represents the advocates’ profession, for a severe lack of judgment when the matter of Hlophe v Premier of the Western Cape Province, Hlophe v Freedom Under Law & Others came before the Constitutional Court in 2012.
. . . . .
When Zondo was interviewed for a position at the Constitutional Court in May 2012, the GCB, in its submissions to the Judicial Service Commission, also raised “concerns” about his performance as the head of the Labour Court, where it was widely felt that the then-Judge President had been lacking in the administrative skills to run a slick operation.
. . . .
The chaos at the Labour Courts may have been one of the contributing factors to his being passed over for a position at the Constitutional Court in 2009 and the Supreme Court of Appeal in 2010. Both the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court had been critical of the Labour Court’s inability to hand down judgments timeously during Zondo’s tenure. In one case, a judgment regarding the dismissal of an employee had not been handed down ten years after first appearing in the Labour Court.
. . . . .
Zondo, with Jafta and Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng concurring, sought inspiration for his dissent in labour law from which he suggested the drafters of the Rental Housing Act, “may have derived the concept of an unfair practise”.
Zondo, understanding the tenants to have claimed “unfair practise” on the part of the landlord, underlined that it was established precedent that “the determination of whether conduct is an unfair labour practice or is unfair is not a question of law but involves the passing of a value judgment”.
“I am unable to uphold the proposition that the termination of the leases constitutes a limitation of the applicants’ right of access to adequate housing, let alone its infringement. In my view the cancellation terminated the applicants’ legal entitlement to occupy the flats and no more. It did not, of itself, result in the loss of access to housing. What would have implicated the applicants’ housing right is the eviction,” he wrote.
Zondo, who was born in 1960 in Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal, holds a BJuris degree from the University of Zululand and obtained his LLM from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He also holds an LLM (cum laude) from the University of South Africa and another with a specialisation in commercial law. He practiced as an attorney at Mathe and Zondo Inc. He is married with four children”.