Mbatha the new leader of Nadeco

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Former SABC boss Hawu Mbatha is the new president of the National Democratic Convention (Nadeco).

Mbatha was elected unopposed yesterday at the embattled party's first national conference at the University of Free State's campus in QwaQwa to elect its national executive committee (NEC).

Nadeco made headlines in its first year of existence when its then interim president, Ziba Jiyane, dissolved its NEC after accusing the members of turning against him.

The matter went to court and the NEC was reinstated.

The conference was scheduled for last year, but had to be postponed many times because of court battles.

Vincent Ngema, who was elected general-secretary, said Jiyane attempted again on Thursday to have the conference postponed, but failed.

"We took it that it was the last kick of a dying horse. We were exhilarated when the Durban high court ruled in our favour," said Ngema.

"We could not postpone the conference further because this has already done enough damage to our party."

An ecstatic Mbatha said he was humbled by the trust bestowed on him.

"We need to build a solid foundation for Nadeco and set up policies that will appeal to the voters," Mbatha said.

He said he would also be working on rebuilding the image of Nadeco that had been tarnished by the internal battles.

"We need to reshape the party and be able to deal with all the internal strife that has been haunting the party.

"We also want to work towards service delivery for the people," he said.

Mbatha said they would still welcome Jiyane into the party.

"Our doors remain open. If anyone wants to take us to court, they can do so," he said.

Political analyst Zakhele Ndlovu said developments in Nadeco had sent a message to political leaders that they should not cling to power forever.

"We welcome the peaceful transition of leadership and I hope that Jiyane would accept the outcome of the elections and actually give support to Mbatha and his NEC," he said.

"But also, this should send a warning that when change comes, a leader must embrace change. This will strengthen South Africa's politics."

Jiyane could not be reached for comment yesterday.