Man­dela to stay in hospi­tal for fore­see­able fu­ture

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - By Robyn Dixon Los An­ge­les Times Nel­son Man­dela has been in the hospi­tal since Dec. 8.

JO­HAN­NES­BURG — South Africa’s el­der states­man, Nel­son Man­dela, will spend Christ­mas in the hospi­tal, with au­thor­i­ties an­nounc­ing that doc­tors have no plans to dis­charge the former pres­i­dent.

Man­dela, 94, South Africa’s first black pres­i­dent, has been hos­pi­tal­ized since Dec. 8, his long­est stay since he was re­leased from prison in 1993. He orig­i­nally was hos­pi­tal­ized for a lung in­fec­tion but also has had surgery for gall­stones.

Au­thor­i­ties have of­fered scant day-to-day in­for­ma­tion about Man­dela’s ill­ness. Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma is­sued a brief state­ment Mon­day af­ter­noon that Man­dela was re­spond­ing to treat­ment. No date has been given on when he might be dis­charged.

The government orig­i­nally mis­led the South African pop­u­la­tion about which hospi­tal Man­dela was in, as well as his con­di­tion.

It wasn’t un­til nearly a fort­night af­ter Man­dela was flown to a hospi­tal in Pre­to­ria from his home in the East­ern Cape prov- ince that Zuma ac­knowl­edged that his con­di­tion was se­ri­ous. Ear­lier, government min­is­ters in­di­cated that Man­dela was in a mil­i­tary hospi­tal in Pre- to­ria, but it turned out he was in a pri­vate hospi­tal.

In a state­ment Mon­day, Zuma called on South Africans and peo­ple around the world to pray for Man­dela.

“Knowl­edge of the love and sup­port of his peo­ple keeps him strong. There­fore, we urge all South Africans to keep Tata (Man­dela) up­per- most in their thoughts at ev­ery place of wor­ship or en­ter­tain­ment to­mor­row on Christ­mas Day, and through­out the fes­tive sea­son.

“We also humbly in­vite all free­dom-lov­ing peo­ple around the world to pray for him. He is an ar­dent fighter and will re­cover from this episode with all our sup­port,” said Zuma. He also told Man­dela’s fam­ily to be strong and promised them the sup­port of government and all the peo­ple of South Africa.

Man­dela plays no role in day-to-day South African pol­i­tics but is of im­mense emo­tional sig­nif­i­cance to the coun­try as the ar­chi­tect of the rec­on­cil­i­a­tion pol­icy that fol- lowed decades of toxic racial seg­re­ga­tion un­der apartheid.

Man­dela has had a his­tory of lung prob­lems since con­tract­ing tu­ber­cu­lo­sis in his 27-year prison term.

The former pres­i­dent has been ill sev­eral times in re­cent years, of­ten spark­ing wild ru­mors that he had died.

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