Mandela’s Health Improving, Says Former President Mbeki

Nelson Mandela’s health is improving after a two-week stay in a South African hospital where he is receiving treatment for a recurring lung infection, former President Thabo Mbeki said.

“I maintain very close contact with the family and doctors about Nelson Mandela’s condition,” Mbeki said in an interview on Johannesburg-based PowerFM radio yesterday. “I don’t think anybody should entertain some wrong notion that Nelson Mandela is going to die tomorrow. He’s not going to.”

Mandela, who turns 95 next month, was admitted to the intensive care unit on June 8, his fourth hospitalization since December. The last official update on his health was on June 16, when President Jacob Zuma said Mandela’s condition remains “serious,” though he is recovering.

“We really need to feel comforted that we still have him with us now and will have him with us in future,” Mbeki said.

Mandela may be discharged from the hospital soon, the Johannesburg-based Star newspaper reported today, citing his grandson, Ndaba Mandela. The family will continue to celebrate him “as long as he can still hear and understand what is said to him, and talk to us,” the newspaper quoted Ndaba as saying.

Mbeki, who became South Africa’s second black president when he succeeded Mandela in 1999, stepped down nine years later after the youth league of the ruling African National Congress helped Zuma oust him as party leader in 2007.

Mandela, who was imprisoned for 27 years for opposing white minority rule under apartheid, took office in 1994 after the ANC won the first all-race elections. Known by his clan name Madiba, Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 together with former President F.W. de Klerk.

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