JOHANNESBURG – The South African anti-apartheid icon Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela made his first “exclusive” appearance on SABC TV, a state owned national broadcaster on Monday evening. Mandela, who looked frail, was visited by South African and African National Congress president Jacob Zuma and other ANC officials at his Houghton home in Johannesburg were he is resting.
Speaking to SABC viewers, Zuma claimed the 94-year-old was in “good health and good spirits”. “As you can see, he’s really up and about,” said Zuma. ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu had released a statement shortly after the visit. He said,”After receiving a briefing from the medical team, the national officials are satisfied that President Mandela is in good health and is receiving the very best medical care”. The ruling party added by saying the president and other leaders had found “Mandela in good shape and in good spirits”.
This was first time the Nobel Peace Prize winner Mandela appeared on television after he was discharged from hospital early in April. During the broadcast, the world icon, Mandela stared mostly straight ahead, his face showing little emotion. In the footage, Mandela was sitting next to Zuma with a pillow behind his head and his legs propped up under a blanket and behind them were ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and ANC chairperson Baleka Mbethe.
ANC concluded, “The African National Congress thanks all South Africans and the international community for keeping president Mandela in their thoughts and prayers.”
Earlier in April, Mandela spent more than a week in hospital being treated for a recurring lung infection identified as pneumonia. During the apartheid era Mandela was convicted and sentenced to 27-years in Robern Island. In 1990 he was released from prison. In 1994 he was elected as first South African black president. He stepped down as president in 1999 and has not been politically active for about a decade. Mandela’s lung problems date back from his time as a political prisoner in Robben Island, where he contracted TB.
Shortly after the footage, outrage on social media platforms Twitter and Facebook buzzed with comments, where people had different views on the broadcast of the footage. Although some people were happy to see Mandela, others criticized the ANC for using this political legend to gain favour with the public.
Spokesperson for the Department of Basic Education, Panyaza Lesufi on his Facebook wall wrote: “Prof Jansen must now explain his remarks towards Mac Maharaj about the health of Madiba now that we all have the evidence! Be well our beloved Tata!”
Musa Zenzinkosi Zondi wrote: “All the clever people have said all the clever things about Mandela and SABC. I am just glad to have seen him. He looks lost but he is alive.”
Hawks spokesman, McIntosh Polela tweeted: “The images of Nelson Mandela have left me dismayed. If he were a member of my own family, I would plead for privacy”.
Chris Moerdyk tweeted: “How sad it is to see the once-proud Nelson Mandela being so crassly manipulated for the sake of cheap party politics.”
Geoffrey York, tweeted: “Recall that ANC refused to disclose Mandela’s hospital “to protect his privacy.” So why they now release such a disturbing video of him?”