JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Nelson Mandela’s health is improving but the 94-year-old beloved anti-apartheid hero remains in serious condition, South Africa’s president said Thursday.
Jacob Zuma paid a visit to Mandela in a Pretoria hospital, where the former president has been treated for six days, according to a statement released by the presidency.
“We continue to appeal to people to keep Madiba in their prayers and wish him a speedy recovery,” Zuma said, referring to Mandela by his clan name.
Mandela is being treated for a recurring lung infection, and it is his fourth hospitalization since December.
Earlier in the day, Zuma told members of parliament that Mandela should be remembered not only for his years as the nation’s first black president, but also for his time as a revolutionary.
Zuma said South Africans shouldn’t create a “superficial” image of Mandela, but remember his lifetime of work.
And Zuma also spoke of the need to improve the lives of the country’s black majority, many of whom live in poverty nearly two decades after the end of racist white rule.
The leader of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement, Mandela spent 27 years in prison during white racist rule. He was freed in 1990 and became South Africa’s first black president in 1994.
Mandela’s official Twitter feed noted that Thursday was the 49th anniversary of the former president’s arrival at Robben Island, the prison off the coast of Cape Town where he spent the majority of his incarceration.