Former South African President Nelson Mandela isn’t in any danger and may be discharged as early as tomorrow after being hospitalized due to a “long-standing” abdominal complaint, the country’s presidency said.
Mandela, 93, is “fine and fully conscious and the doctors are satisfied with his condition,” after a diagnostic procedure, the presidency said in a statement on its website today.
“He was in good health before admission in hospital but doctors felt the complaint needed a thorough investigation,” the presidency statement said.
Mandela became South Africa’s first black president after apartheid, the official racial segregation policy, ended in 1994. He spent 27 years in prison, fighting for black rights, before he was released in 1990. He negotiated a peaceful end to the old regime with leaders of South Africa’s white minority government. Three years later, he won the Nobel Peace Prize, and he stepped down as president voluntarily in 1999.
His hospital admission today was “long arranged and therefore it’s not an emergency admission,” the ruling African National Congress party said in an e-mailed statement today.
The presidency won’t disclose the name of the hospital where Mandela is being treated, presidency spokesman Mac Maharaj said by mobile phone.
Mandela was admitted to Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg briefly a year ago for an acute respiratory infection. He had radiotherapy treatment in 2001 after doctors found microscopic prostate cancer.
He moved back to Johannesburg on Jan. 29 after spending several months at his house in Qunu in the Eastern Cape province, the Johannesburg-based Sunday Times reported on that day, citing Maharaj.
‘Icon and Inspiration’
South Africa’s largest labor group and a member of ruling alliance, the Congress of South African Trades Unions, called Mandela its “icon and inspiration.” Cosatu is “concerned at the news” and wishes him a speedy recovery, the union said in an e-mailed statement today.
President Jacob Zuma said last week the animal images on all of the country’s banknotes will be replaced with those of Mandela, saying it’s a “befitting tribute to the man who became a symbol of his country’s struggle for human rights and democracy.”
Mandela retired from public life after campaigning for children’s rights, global peace and greater access to treatment for AIDS sufferers. South Africa’s constitution allows for no more than two presidential terms.