Nelson Mandela's health has improved slightly, though he remains in critical but stable condition, South Africa's presidency has said. He's been hospitalized for over two weeks after being admitted for a lung infection.
Zuma's office said in a statement Thursday that the president had received encouraging news from Mandela's medical team. The announcement came after Zuma canceled a planned international trip in order to meet with Mandela for the second day running.
"I canceled my visit to Mozambique today so that I can see him and confer with the doctors," Zuma said. "He is much better today than he was when I saw him last night."
The South African president urged people to pray for Mandela and continue their work and daily activities.
Mandela was admitted to the hospital on June 8 for a lung infection. He has been treated for recurring lung infections in recent years linked to an illness he picked up during his years in prison.
"Tata's (father's) situation is critical," his daughter, Makaziwe Mandela, told public broadcaster SABC. "Yesterday, I was there. He doesn't look good; I am not going to lie."
Frustration with media
Zuma's office said it was disturbed by the rumors surrounding Mandela's health. Several TV broadcasters have quoted anonymous sources saying the anti-apartheid leader is on life support. Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj has declined to confirm or deny those reports.
Makaziwe Mandela told SABC the news coverage of her father had become intrusive.
"There's sort of a racist element with many of the foreign media, where they just cross boundaries," she said. "It's like truly vultures waiting when a lion has devoured a buffalo, waiting there for the last carcasses. That's the image we have, as a family."
"We don't mind the interest," she added. "But I just think it has gone overboard."
'Hero for the world'
US President Barack Obama is due to travel to South Africa Friday as part of his African tour. Speaking from Senegal, he hailed Mandela as "a hero for the world."
"If or when Mandela passes away, his legacy will linger on through the ages," Obama told reporters.
Makaziwe Mandela said the family had called off scheduled large celebrations for her father's 95th birthday next month, but that they are still hoping to mark the day with him.
"If we are blessed by the good Lord to have Tata still alive and breathing on July 18, I think as a family we will celebrate as we usually do," she said.
dr/kms (AP, dpa, AFP)