Nelson Mandela Improving: Report

Patricia Didelot

South African President Jacob Zuma says that the condition of Nelson Mandela has improved overnight.

The statement comes after he visited the anti-apartheid hero in the hospital in Pretoria.

According to CNN, Zuma said that Mandela's medical team told him that the former President "remains critical but is now stable."

Mandela, who is 94 and considered the founding father of South Africa's modern democracy, has struggled with health problems since June 8 when he was admitted to the hospital for a stubborn lung infection.

In an earlier statement, Mandela's oldest daughter said that, even though her father is critically ill, he opens his eyes and responds to touch.

"I reiterate that Tata is very critical, that anything is imminent," Makaziwe Mandela told state-run South African Broadcasting Corp. "But I want to emphasize again that it's only God who knows when the time to go is. And so we will wait."

Tata is the Xhosa word for father.

The news comes after reports surfaced that Nelson Mandela was on life support. A government spokesman declined to comment on grounds of doctor-patient confidentiality.

Zuma's statement also warned against misleading reports about Mandela's condition.

"The presidency is disturbed by the rumors that are being spread about former President Mandela's health. We appeal for respect for the privacy and dignity of the former president," it said.

Shortly after visiting Mandela on Wednesday night, Zuma cancelled his planned trip to Mozambique, where he was due to attend a summit on investment Thursday.

Police was forced to barricade the street leading to the hospital's main entrance as people posted messages and left tributes.

Some of the signs read:

"We need you!"

"We love you tata, get well soon!"

US President Barack Obama, who is on an a tour of the continent this week that includes South Africa, said his thoughts are with the nation's citizens.

"He is a personal hero, but I'm not unique in that regard," Obama told CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin in Dakar, Senegal, the first stop of his African tour.

"I think he's a hero for the world and if/when he passes, we know his legacy will linger on throughout the ages."

Obama's visit to South Africa on Saturday will include a visit to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent a majority of his 27 years of incarceration.

[Image via Jaxons /]