Nelson Mandela: South Africa welcomes 'progress'

Media caption,
The BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse says a lack of detail has raised public concerns about Mr Mandela's condition

South Africa's government is pleased that ex-President Nelson Mandela is responding well to treatment in hospital, it said in a statement.

The cabinet, which met on Wednesday, wished a speedy recovery to Mr Mandela, regarded as the father of the nation.

The 94 year old is spending his sixth day in a Pretoria hospital suffering from a recurrent lung infection.

Earlier, President Jacob Zuma said he was happy with Mr Mandela's progress after a "difficult few days".

Mr Mandela's grandson and family heir, Mandla, said the family had "been deeply touched" by the concern shown for Mr Mandela's health.


Mr Mandela's wife Graca Machel has been at his bedside regularly since calling off a trip to London last week.

His daughter Zenani, who is the ambassador to Argentina, has also returned to South Africa to visit him.

Mr Mandela was elected South Africa's first black president in 1994 after leading the struggle against white minority rule.

He stepped down five years later.

"Cabinet wishes [former] President Nelson Mandela a speedy recovery and reassures the nation that he is receiving the best medical care," a government statement, published on Thursday, said.

"Cabinet is pleased that he is responding well to treatment and reiterates the request for the media and the public to respect the privacy of the former president and his family during this period."

Mr Mandela has been in intensive care since he was taken to hospital on Saturday for the third time this year.

In December, he spent 18 days undergoing treatment for a lung infection and gallstones.

Before being admitted to hospital, Mr Mandela had been ill for some days at his Johannesburg home, with a recurrence of his long-standing lung problems, said a statement from the president's office on Tuesday.

Mr Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years for his role in the fight against apartheid and is believed to have suffered damage to his lungs while working in a prison quarry.

He contracted tuberculosis in the 1980s while being held in jail on the windswept Robben Island.

He retired from public life in 2004 and has been rarely seen at official events since.

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