Winnie: ‘great improvement, but Madiba is still unwell’

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Former President Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela said last night that it became very difficult to understand the seeming impatience and statements like:  ‘It is time for the family to let go’  or ‘We are praying for the family not to pull the tubes.’

‘These are insensitive statements that none of you would want to be made about your parents or grandparents.”

Earlier, Madiba’s daughter Makaziwe Mandela said ‘I won’t lie. It does not look good.  But when we speak to him, he responds and tries to open his eyes, he is still there.  Anything is imminent, but I want to emphasise again that it is only God who knows when the time to go is.’


A string of VIPs visited ailing ex-president Mandela on Friday, including Free State Premier Ace Magashule. He was accompanied by ANC National Spokesman Jackson Mthembu.

The Ministers of Health and of Defence went into the hospital earlier, and they joined close Mandela family members already inside.



Candles of hope flickered outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria today for ailing former President Nelson Mandela.

Independent Online reports that after a night of prayer services, an anxious nation waited for news about his condition.


US President Barack Obama flies to South Africa later today, and Sky News reports he is hoping to pay homage to the legacy of his critically-ill hero,  Nelson Mandela.    Madiba’s poor health means that chances of a long-anticipated meeting for the cameras, will be remote.

On the eve of Mr. Obama’s visit, Mr. Mandela was said to be in a critical condition, but had stabilised since a scare forced President Jacob Zuma to cancel a trip to Mozambique.

The Johannesburg Star newspaper yesterday reported that ex-president Mandela had been on life-support systems since Sunday.   At that stage, his doctors were apparently waiting for instructions from the Mandela family on whether to keep him alive or whether to allow him to die.

High ranking government sources told the newspaper that he would never make any progress, and it seemed as if he would be kept there until it was time for the nation to be informed about the worst.  Another source said Mandela’s doctors had reached a stage where they felt there was little they could do to save him.

On Thursday morning, Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter said he was in a stable condition.  Outside the hospital where he is being treated, Ndileka Mandela thanked everybody for giving the family their support and praying with them.  “We are anxious, but as you know, he is in a critical condition. However, he is stable.”

Earlier, President Zuma cancelled his scheduled trip to Mozambique.  A statement from the presidential office said last night that he had done  this after visiting ex-President Mandela in hospital.

Wednesday was ex-president Nelson Mandela’s nineteenth day in hospital, and everything points to an imminent announcement that the end has come.  Sky News has reported that reliable sources have confirmed that he is being kept alive artificially, and that he is not able no breathe on his own.

On Tuesday night there were police patrols at his house in Houghton, and Cape Town archbishop Thabo Makgoba led Madiba’s wife in prayer in the hospital where he is treated, and at Qunu the statesmen’s close family members held an ’emergency meeting’  on Tuesday.  Eyewitnesses who tweeted from there reported that at one stage one of the senior members stormed out of the meeting, apparently enraged.  However, United Democratic Front Leader Bantu Holomisa, who attended the meeting, has said that funeral arrangements had not been discussed at the meeting.   He told the Mail and Guardian the purpose of the meeting was to brief the elders on the current condition of Mandela.

Meanwhile,  the whole world is holding its breath and preparing for the inevitable. The only question is: when is it going to happen?

People around him and Government officials have started with preparing people for the worst;  old friend since 1948 and legal representative George Bizos has reminded everybody of the harsh reality by saying  ‘Mandela is not immortal.’ He said this after receiving a phone call from Graca Machel, Madiba’s wife, who told him that the aged statesman’s condition ‘was not very good.’ Earlier President Zuma refused to comment on the question whether the icon was on life support, saying “I am not a doctor, and I respect doctor-patient confidentiality.  A meeting of the Mandela family has been scheduled for later in the day, which has fuelled the possibility of him being on life-support and that a crucial decision has to be taken.

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