THE South African government yesterday said former president Nelson Mandela’s condition stabilised overnight, as United States President Barack Obama hailed him as a hero whose legacy would endure.
The South African presidency said in a statement: “He remains critical, but is now stable.
“President Jacob Zuma visited former president Nelson Mandela in hospital in Pretoria yesterday, and was informed by the medical team that Madiba’s condition has improved during the course of the night.”
Zuma added: “I cancelled my visit to Mozambique today (yesterday) so that I can see him and confer with the doctors. He is much better today (yesterday) than he was when I saw him last night (Wednesday).”
The presidency’s update contrasted with earlier remarks by Mandela’s eldest daughter to SABC TV that the family was living in great uncertainty.
“I’m not going to lie. He does not look good,” Makaziwe Mandela said, but added that she last saw her father on Wednesday.
“I can reiterate that Tata (dad) is very critical, that anything is imminent, but I want to emphasise again that it is only God who knows when the time to go is.”
She said the family drew hope from signs that South Africa’s liberation icon, who was on life-support, was still trying to respond to their presence.
“But I think that for us, as his children and grandchildren, we still have this hope, because when we talk to him, he’d flutter trying to open his eyes.
“When you touch him, he still responds. For us … as long as Tata is still responding when we touch him, I think that gives us hope.”
Speaking in Senegal at the beginning of his African tour, Obama described Mandela as both a personal and a global hero.
“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,” said Obama, who is due in South Africa today.