x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Mandela still critical: South Africa

South Africa's president has urged his compatriots to show their appreciation for Nelson Mandela by marking his 95th birthday next month with acts of goodness that honour the legacy of the anti-apartheid leader.

JOHANNESBURG // South Africa's president yesterday urged his compatriots to show their appreciation for Nelson Mandela by marking his 95th birthday next month with acts of goodness that honour the legacy of the anti-apartheid leader.

The office of president Jacob Zuma yesterday said Mandela - the first black president of South Africa and a symbol of sacrifice and reconciliation throughout the world - remained in a critical condition in hospital.

South African media have reported that members of Mr Mandela's family have held a meeting at his rural home in Qunu in the Eastern Cape province, where the anti-apartheid leader grew up.

No details on what was discussed in the meeting were announced. As on previous days, other family members were seen visiting the hospital in Pretoria where the Nobel Peace Prize laureate is being treated.

Mr Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison during white racist rule and became South Africa's first black president in all-race elections in 1994, was taken to the hospital on June 8 to be treated for what the government described as a recurring lung infection.

Mr Zuma's office said doctors were doing their best to ensure his recovery and comfort.

"We must support him and support his family," Mr Zuma said. "We must demonstrate our love and appreciation for his leadership during the struggle for liberation and in our first few years of freedom and democracy by living out his legacy and promoting unity, non-racialism, non-sexism and prosperity in our country."

The president asked that the legacy of Mandela, also known by his clan name Madiba, be celebrated on July 18, his 95th birthday.

In recent years, organisers have sought to turn the day into an international event in which participants do something to honour Mandela's values for 67 minutes, noting that he spent 67 years as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner, a peacemaker and a democratically elected president.