Mandela remains 'in serious but stable condition'
Tutu calls him 'extraordinary gift' to South Africa
Nelson Mandela was in serious but stable condition in a Pretoria hospital last night as his battle with a recurring lung infection entered its fourth day.
As family members visited South Africa's first black president in the hospital, the government announced – in only the second communication on Mr Mandela since he was hospitalised on Saturday – that his condition was "unchanged".
A foundation led by retired archbishop Desmond Tutu described the 94-year-old anti-apartheid hero as an "extraordinary gift" to South Africa.
A statement issued for the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation described Mr Mandela as "the beloved father of our nation" and offered prayers for a man seen by many around the world as a symbol of reconciliation because of his peacemaking role when white racist rule ended in South Africa.
Mr Mandela "once again endures the ravages of time in hospital", said the Cape Town-based foundation, which was founded by Dr Tutu and his wife Leah to promote peace. "We offer our thanks to God for the extraordinary gift of Mr Mandela, and wish his family strength."
Dr Tutu (81) was also a vigorous campaigner against apartheid, which ended when all-race elections were held in 1994 and Mr Mandela became president. Like Mr Mandela, Dr Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts on behalf of his compatriots.
Mr Mandela shared his prize with FW de Klerk, the last president of the apartheid era.
"We send our blessings to the doctors and nurses responsible for his care," Dr Tutu's foundation said.
Meanwhile, the African National Congress, South Africa's ruling party, dismissed as false a report in 'The Star' newspaper that Mr Mandela's family had barred senior party leaders and government officials from visiting the hospital.
On April 29, state television broadcast footage of a visit to Mr Mandela's home by President Jacob Zuma and other ANC leaders. Mr Zuma said then that Mr Mandela was in good shape, but the footage – the first public images of Mr Mandela in nearly a year – showed him silent and unresponsive.
Mr Mandela has been hospitalised several times in recent months. During a hospital stay that ended April 6, doctors diagnosed him with pneumonia.
Mr Mandela has been particularly vulnerable to respiratory problems since contracting tuberculosis during 27 years as the prisoner of the white racist government.