Nelson Mandela's health worsens; Zuma cancels travel plans


The health of anti-Apartheid hero Nelson Mandela has deteriorated, and he is in a critical but stable condition, responding to touch, Mandela's family members told reporters on Thursday.  

"I reiterate that Tata (father) is very critical, that anything is imminent," Mandela's daughter, Makaziwe Mandela, told the state-run South African Broadcasting Corp

Speaking to reporters outside the Pretoria hospital, Mandela's granddaughter, Ndileka Mandela, said the former South African president is in a "critical" and "stable condition." 

Mandela's health has deteriorated "in the past 48 hours," a government spokesman told South African media Wednesday evening.

Spokesman Mac Maharaj declined to give details of the former president's condition on the grounds of doctor-patient confidentiality, but said that doctors considered it serious enough that President Jacob Zuma had canceled a planned trip to Mozambique.

“I cancelled my visit to Mozambique today so that I could see him and confer with the doctors. He is much better today than he was when I saw him last night," Zuma said in a statement, adding that he was troubled by rumors about Mandela's health. 

Makaziwe Mandela criticized foreign reporters who had camped outside the Pretoria hospital.

"It is like, truly, vultures waiting when the lion has devoured the buffalo, waiting there, you know, for the last carcasses. That is the image that we have as a family," she told SABC television.

Citing an official briefed on Mandela's condition, CNN reported that Mandela was on life support at the Pretoria hospital where he was admitted on June 8.

Unnamed sources told South African newspaper The Citizen that the 94-year-old is suffering from kidney failure, and requires renal dialysis as well as assistance breathing. 

Zuma visited Mandela around 10 PM on Wednesday night and found him still in critical condition, a government statement said. The president was due to attend a regional summit in the Mozambican capital, Maputo, on Thursday but decided to remain in South Africa.

Wellwishers continued to light candles outside the hospital where Mandela — South Africa's first black president and an icon of the anti-Apartheid movement — was admitted with a recurrent lung infection almost three weeks ago.

[View the story "Mandela: An outpouring of online love" on Storify]