Mandela showing signs of improvement, says Zuma

Former South African president’s daughter says he is ‘still there’ and responding to touch

Outside the Heart Hospital in Pretoria, where Nelson Mandela is being treated for a lung infection, members of the public await news  yesterday of the former South African president ’s condition. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Outside the Heart Hospital in Pretoria, where Nelson Mandela is being treated for a lung infection, members of the public await news yesterday of the former South African president ’s condition. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Fri, Jun 28, 2013, 01:00

The South Africa presidency released a statement yesterday saying former president Nelson Mandela, who has been in hospital since June 8th receiving treatment for a recurring lung infection, showed signs of improvement.

President Jacob Zuma visited Mr Mandela in hospital in Pretoria on Wednesday and doctors told him his condition had worsened, prompting the former to cancel a planned trip to Mozambique on Thursday.

However, Mr Zuma was informed by the medical team yesterday that the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s condition had improved over night. Although he remains critical, he is currently stable.

‘Sterling job’
“I cancelled my visit to Mozambique today so that I could see him and confer with the doctors. He is much better today than he was when I saw him last night. The medical team continues to do a sterling job. We must pray for Tata’s [as Mr Mandela is affectionately known locally] health and wish him well,” Mr Zuma said.

Mr Mandela’s daughter Makaziwe told state broadcaster SABC yesterday her father was “still there” and responding to touch.

However, she also lashed out at international media for the manner in which they were covering the event, saying they were not allowing her father and his family space to deal with what was occurring.

Such has been the global interest in Mr Mandela’s health that hundreds of journalists and photographers have been camped outside the hospital in which he has been staying, as well as his homes in Johannesburg and Qunu, a rural village in the Eastern Cape province.

“There is sort of a racist element with many of the foreign national media where they cross boundaries – it’s like truly vultures waiting [for] when the lion has devoured the buffalo . . . we don’t mind the interest but I just think that it has gone overboard,” Ms Mandela said. She said that when former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher was ill prior to her death the media in the UK acted very differently.

Obama ‘hero’
Mr Mandela was yesterday described as a “hero for the world” by US president Barack Obama, who was preparing to travel to South Africa today as part of his government’s three- country tour in Africa. Speaking from Senegal, Mr Obama claimed the anti-apartheid hero had inspired him to become involved in politics and he added that the prayers of the American people were with him and his family.

“He is a personal hero. I think he is a hero for the world, and if and when he passes from this place, one thing I think we all know is that his legacy is one that will linger on throughout the ages,” Mr Obama said.