South Africa President Jacob Zuma appeared on state television Tuesday to reassure an uneasy nation that Nelson Mandela, although in a serious condition, is receiving the best of care.
In a brief recorded interview Zuma reiterated that the anti-apartheid icon and father of modern South Africa was in a stable condition.
“We are all feeling it, that our president, the real father of democracy in South Africa is in the hospital,” Zuma, looking relaxed and clad in a sweater, told the South African Broadcasting Corporation.
Mandela was rushed to hospital in the early hours of Saturday, to receive treatment for a lung infection.
“Yesterday I met the team of doctors who are treating him. They gave me a very thorough briefing and really I was very confident that they know what they are doing and they’re doing a very good job,” Zuma said.
“Whilst it is very serious but he’s stabilised and we are all praying for him really to recuperate quickly.”
Although Mandela was only president for one five-year term, he bestrides South African politics.
In prison for 27 years for his beliefs, he became the undisputed face of the anti-apartheid movement.
“We need him to be with us and I’m sure that all the messages that have been pouring in to wish him a quick, speedy recovery, they are highly welcome,” Zuma said.
“But that also indicates the love of our people to him and we certainly join everyone to say he should recover quickly.”
“And I’m sure, knowing him as I do, he’s a good fighter and he’ll be with us very soon.”
Mandela’s latest hospitalisation, the fourth in seven months, has been met with a sense of resignation among many South Africans, who have come to terms with their icon’s mortality.