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Waiting for news on Mandela....

Andrew Harding | 05:55 UK time, Friday, 28 January 2011

It is as though we are all in the waiting room now. Some sitting quietly, some pacing the corridor. Some are texting and speculating and wondering why a cocoon of official silence has enveloped an elderly man who always argued for transparency on such matters.

The silence may be understandable, even expected. But most South Africans I've spoken to feel such a strong bond with Nelson Mandela that, almost like family, they simply want a doctor to come through the swinging doors and give them some sense of what's going on.

We should know more soon. The cocoon is beginning to unravel as officials concede that those "routine tests", which made it sound like Mr Mandela was just having a regular check-up, were actually in response to some sort of respiratory problem.

The complication - and it's something we half knew would become an issue - is that so many different groups and factions legitimately feel here they have a stake in Mr Mandela's story that it is hard to reach a consensus on who should speak - and how, and when - on his behalf in such circumstances.

"Too many stakeholders," was the curt text reply from an insider when I asked why it was taking so long for more information to leak out.


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