Nelson Mandela said to be 'responding better to treatment' for lung infection

South Africa's President, Jacob Zuma, tells parliament in Cape Town that 'we are very happy with the progress that he's now making'

After four days of treatment for a lung infection during which there has been little indication of his condition, Nelson Mandela was today said to be “responding better to treatment”.

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma told parliament in Cape Town that “we are very happy with the progress that he's now making, following a difficult few days.”

It was the first report of improvement in a persistent lung condition that has dogged the 94-year-old since he contracted tuberculosis during his long imprisonment, much of it in harsh conditions on Robben Island. The anti-Apartheid hero was rushed to hospital on Saturday after suffering a recurrence of the lung condition.

The vigil for South Africa's first black president has reminded the country how far it has drifted from the extraordinary optimism that accompanied the birth of the Rainbow Nation in 1994. After four hospital visits in less than one year, there is a growing public acceptance that the “father of the nation” and its main unifying figure will not be with them much longer.

Mr Zuma, who assumed the presidency with a corruption investigation hanging over him and has faced a string of scandals since taking office, took the opportunity to revisit past successes:

“Our country is a much better place to live in now than it was before 1994, even though we still have so much work to do,” he told parliament.

Forty-nine years ago Mr Mandela was sentenced to prison for sabotage and conspiring to overthrow the white minority government. During the course of his 27-year internment his reputation was transformed from that of a terrorist to a symbol of the injustice of Apartheid. When he emerged from prison his efforts to reconcile South Africa's bitter racial divides saw his awarded the Nobel Peace prize.

He is being treated at a hospital in the capital, Pretoria, where a police guard has been stationed outside and a steady stream of his relatives have been coming and going. The street outside is lined with the outside broadcast vehicles of most of the world's leading media outlets.

Among the torrent of tributes that have accompanied the former president's latest illness was one from the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Speaking in New Zealand, he cautioned that the world would have to continue without South Africa's icons of freedom like Mr Mandela and Desmond Tutu. They were ageing and frail and “logically they are going to go,” he said.

“Nelson Mandela is very ill, Desmond Tutu also quite old... [The] important thing is their teaching, their spirit must carry.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent