AFRICANGLOBE – South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) has come under attack for parading founding president Nelson Mandela on national television, looking very frail.
Critics accuse the party of invading the former statesman and liberation icon’s privacy. The images has been widely criticised in the social media.
On Monday, the ANC led by President Jacob Zuma and the top six of the party’s national executive committee, including deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa visited Mandela at his Houghton home in Johannesburg.
These were the first images to be shown of Mandela since his hospitalisation.
“Those who are complaining that Madiba’s latest images were a publicity stunt by the ANC are eating sour grapes…. We are happy we shared Madiba with the world, even in his frail state,” said ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu.
Mthembu defended ANC’s decision to show the images saying the country “needed to see Madiba because he belongs to the nation,” adding that “Madiba is frail, he is 95 years old and not a young man”.
The country’s national broadcaster, the SABC accompanied the Jacob Zuma on his visit, tweeting on social networking site Twitter about its ‘exclusive.’
The footage was also distributed to local networks.
“We had some conversation with him, shook hands, he was smiling,” Zuma told the SABC.
“He’s really up and about, and stabilised. We are very happy, we think he is fine.”
The news footage showed Nelson Mandela sitting on a sofa flanked by Jacob Zuma, Ramaphosa, party chairperson Baleka Mbete and his medical team.
Mthembu said there would have been an “avalanche of criticism” towards the ANC if it had not shown Mandela’s images.
He said the ANC had invited only the SABC to avoid “making Mandela uncomfortable”.
President Mandela was discharged from hospital earlier this month after spending nine days receiving treatment for recurring lung problems.
Early in March, the Nobel Laureate was admitted to a Tshwane hospital for a scheduled check-up but was discharged the following day.
In December last year, Mandela underwent an operation to remove gallstones and treat the lung infection.
He was discharged after an 18-day stay and placed under home-based high care at his Houghton home. Nelson Mandela’s last major public appearance was in July 2010, at the final of the Fifa soccer World Cup at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg.