This hospital stay, his longest since leaving prison in February 1990, has sparked increasing concern about a man who represents the aspirations of a country still struggling with race and poverty.
Following the chaos that surrounded Mandela’s stay at a public hospital in 2011, the South African military took charge of his care and the government took over control of the information about his health. However, public worries over Mandela have grown as government officials contradicted themselves in recent days about Mandela’s location, raising questions about who is actually treating him.
On Saturday, the South African National Editors’ Forum issued a statement criticizing the government for not being straightforward with journalists about Mandela’s hospitalization. The forum said that journalists had been working with the government to set up guidelines on how to handle covering Mandela in his waning years, though state officials ultimately declined to sign off on the agreement.
“Senior government representatives have sought to justify misleading statements about the circumstances surrounding Mr. Mandela’s whereabouts on the basis of irresponsible conduct by print and broadcast news organizations,” the statement read. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
The editor’s forum includes members from newspapers, television broadcasters and radio stations in South Africa, as well as the Foreign Correspondents Association of Southern Africa.
Mandela largely retired from public life after serving one five-year term. He last made a public appearance when his country hosted the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament. Mandela has also grown more frail in recent years, with his grip on politics in the nation ever slackening.