News Column

Nelson Mandela Remains in Critical Condition

June 24, 2013
Nelson Mandela

South African President Jacob Zuma on Monday said former president Nelson Mandela "remains in critical condition in hospital."

"The doctors are doing everything possible to ensure his well-being and comfort," President Jacob Zuma told reporters, adding that this was a "difficult time."

Zuma and African National Congress deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa visited Mandela in hospital on Sunday night, upon learning that his condition had changed for the worse.

"It was late when we got to hospital and he was already asleep. We were there, looked at him, saw him. We then had a bit of discussion with doctors and his wife, Graca Machel, and we left. I am not in a position to give further details. I'm not a doctor," said Zuma.

The president declined to comment on whether the liberation hero was on life-support.

Mandela, 94, was South Africa's first post-Apartheid president, rising to the position after 27 years behind bars as a political prisoner for his role in fighting against the old regime, which gave preferential treatment to the white minority while harshly oppressing the black majority.

"This is the father of democracy, this is the man who fought and sacrificed his life, to stay in prison," said Zuma. "He is the man we all love."

But he also prepared his fellow South Africans for the worst, especially given that Mandela has been hospitalized multiple times in recent months.

"All of us in the country, should accept that Madiba is now old," said Zuma, using Mandela's clan name. "As he ages, his health will begin to trouble him.

"What we need to do as a country is to pray for him, pray for him to be well. We can ensure that doctors do their work, so that he can come out of hospital. That is what we can do for Madiba as a country. That would be honouring Madiba and his life."

Mandela has been in Pretoria hospital since June 8, when he was admitted for a recurring lung infection.

Zuma confirmed that the ambulance the former president was transport in broke down en route to the hospital, but that several doctors were with him and "his health was not compromised."

Zuma added that a planned visit by US President Barack Obama later this week would not be rescheduled due to concerns about Mandela's health.

"President Obama is visiting South Africa. I would imagine that if there was such a visit and somebody fell sick, I don't think you stop a visit because someone is sick," said Zuma, adding that "nothing will stop the visit."

Obama is set to visit Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania, ending his Africa trip on June 3. This will be his second visit to the continent as president.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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