S.Africa government tight-lipped about Mandela condition

The South African government remained tight-lipped Sunday about Nelson Mandela's health, sparking speculation that the anti-apartheid icon is likely to spend Christmas in hospital.

Mandela, 94, was admitted to hospital on December 8, and is receiving treatment for a recurring lung infection and has also had a procedure to remove gallstones.

"At this stage there is no update on his condition and his doctors have given no indication about when Madiba will be discharged," presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said, using Mandela's clan name.

Only President Jacob Zuma's office is tasked with issuing updates about the revered statesman's health.

Official information about his treatment has not revealed much about the seriousness of his condition or details about the sort of treatment he is undergoing.

Zuma visited Mandela on Saturday at the Pretoria hospital where he is being treated and said he was "responding to treatment".

Media reported that Nobel Peace Prize laureate was also visited by family members, including his wife Graca Machel.

Last week Zuma said Mandela's condition was serious when he was admitted to hospital two weeks ago, calling him a fighter.

"Madiba is an unparalleled fighter and has always been so. He has met all his health challenges with his tremendous fortitude and grace," Zuma said told delegates at the end of the ruling ANC's party conference.

This is the longest time Mandela has spent in hospital since being released from prison in 1990 after 27 years.

He was previously hospitalised for an acute respiratory infection in January 2011, when he was kept as an inpatient for two nights.

He became South Africa's first black president in 1994, after the end of apartheid, and stepped down in 1999 after spending one term in office.

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