Meanwhile, the African National Congress, South Africa’s ruling party, dismissed as false a report in Monday’s edition of The Star newspaper that Mandela’s family had barred senior party leaders and government officials from visiting the hospital.
On April 29, state television broadcast footage of a visit to Mandela’s home by President Jacob Zuma and other ANC leaders. Zuma said then that Mandela was in good shape, but the footage — the first public images of Mandela in nearly a year — showed him silent and unresponsive, even when Zuma tried to hold his hand.
Some South Africans said that showing images of a clearly ill Mandela was inappropriate and appeared to reflect an attempt by the ruling party to benefit politically from its association with Mandela, a former ANC head, in the run-up to national elections next year. The party denied the accusation.
In its brief statement on Mandela’s health, the presidency said Zuma “reiterates his call for South Africa to pray for Madiba and the family during this time,” referring to Mandela by his clan name.
Mandela has been hospitalized several times in recent months. During a hospital stay that ended April 6, doctors diagnosed him with pneumonia and drained fluid from his chest.