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Mandela’s Improvement Sustained as Family Visits, Zuma Says

Mandela’s Improvement Sustained as Family Visits, Zuma Says
Children play next to a mural depicting former South African President Nelson Mandela. Photographer: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Former South African President Nelson Mandela, hospitalized for a ninth day for treatment of a lung infection, is recovering, President Jacob Zuma said today.

“We are grateful that he continues to get better,” Zuma said in a speech in KwaZulu-Natal province. “Over the last two days, although he remains serious, his doctors have stated that his improvement has been sustained.”

Mandela, 94, was admitted to the intensive care unit of a Pretoria hospital on June 8 for treatment of a recurrent lung infection. It’s his fourth stay since December, after he was treated for pneumonia in April and had gall stones removed.

Mandela was South Africa’s first black president after the African National Congress party won the 1994 all-race elections that ended apartheid in the continent’s biggest economy. He’s also known by his clan name of Madiba.

“He continues to engage with family,” Zuma said in the speech posted on the presidency’s website. “I invite you to join me today, in wishing Madiba a very happy Father’s Day.”

The former president contracted tuberculosis on Robben Island, off the coast of Cape Town, where he spent most of its 27 years of imprisonment. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

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