SA Prez Zuma cancels trip as Mandela’s condition worsens
Johannesburg: Ailing anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela's health has deteriorated further, forcing South African President Jacob Zuma today to cancel his trip to Mozambique.
Zuma visited the gravely ill Mandela late last night.
94-year-old Mandela has been in hospital since June 8 for a recurring lung ailment and his condition has been deteriorating since Sunday.
Reports have said that he is on life support as his clan elders gather to address the situation.
Zuma's decision not to attend the crucial summit of Southern African Development Community (SADC) today despite South Africa being a major partner in the bloc, has further highlighted the seriousness of Mandela's condition.
Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj said after Zuma's late-night visit that Mandela's condition has worsened over the past 48 hours.
Maharaj said doctors had assured Zuma "they are still doing everything they can to ensure Mandela's wellbeing."
News of Mandela's deteriorating health has overshadowed the maiden visit of US President Barak Obama, who is due to arrive in South Africa tomorrow and meet Zuma on Saturday.
Mandela's condition has also raised concerns with organisers of two of South Africa's biggest events over the next fortnight, the Durban July and the Grahamstown Arts Festival, both of which attract people from around the world.
Organisers of both events said they would await the advice of the government on whether to proceed with the events next week.
Yesterday, Phathekile Holomisa, a traditional leader near Mandela's ancestral home in Eastern Cape Province, said that while it would be painful to lose the ailing leader, his fate should be 'left to God'.
"Like everybody else, if Madiba (Mandela's clan name) is no longer enjoying life and is basically on life support then the good Lord must take a decision to put him to rest," Holomisa told media.
Mandela, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who served as South Africa's first black president from 1994 to 1999, is widely regarded as the father of the nation for leading the struggle against apartheid and for democracy.