The health of South Africa’s former president, Nelson Mandela, who celebrates his 95th birthday today, is “steadily improving” as he remains in the hospital, President Jacob Zuma’s office said.
“We thank all our people for supporting Madiba throughout the hospitalization with undying love and compassion,” the presidency said in a statement today. “We also thank all for responding to the call to give Madiba the biggest birthday celebration ever this year.” Madiba is Mandela’s clan name.
The former leader has been in a Pretoria hospital since June 8 to receive treatment for a recurring lung infection. Doctors downgraded his condition to critical on June 23. His granddaughter, Zaziwe Manaway, yesterday said Mandela is “doing much better,” while his condition is still classified as “critical but stable.”
Mandela took office as head of Africa’s largest economy after the African National Congress won the country’s first multiracial elections in 1994. He had spent 27 years in jail for opposing white-minority rule and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.