Make Nelson Mandela's birthday grand: Jacob Zuma

NelsonSand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik gives finishing touches to a sand sculpture of former South African President Nelson Mandela.PTI

As Nelson Mandela remained in critical condition at a hospital, South Africa President Jacob Zuma today asked people to mark the anti-apartheid icon's 95th birthday on July 18 with the biggest Mandela Day ever. "We must all be planning what to do next month in marking our 67 minutes of doing good for humanity as called upon by Madiba to do so, when he launched the International Mandela Day campaign," Zuma said.

"Let us make it the biggest Mandela Day ever on the 18th of July, focusing on doing good all over the country." Since 2009, people around the world have been doing volunteer work for 67 minutes, signifying the number of years Mandela had spent until then to bring democracy to South Africa in 1994.

"We must support him and support his family. We must demonstrate our love and appreciation for his leadership during the struggle for liberation and in our first few years of freedom and democracy by living out his legacy and promoting unity, non-racialism, non-sexism and prosperity in our country," Zuma said.

The latest update from the Presidency this afternoon said the iconic leader's condition remains unchanged in hospital and doctors continue to do their best to ensure his recovery, well-being and comfort. Mandela has been in hospital since June 8 for a recurring lung infection.

As Zuma continued to urge that Mandela and his family be accorded the necessary sensitivity, dignity and privacy at this time, Presidency spokesman Mac Maharaj said some reports around former president's health have crossed the boundaries of medical ethics. He was referring to widespread reports worldwide after American network CBS last week first disclosed details of the medical procedures that Mandela had undergone.

Maharaj said Mandela's privacy and dignity was at stake by doing this. "The doctors have indicated very firmly that some of the reporting is transgressing on medicals ethics, not just in relation to doctor/patient confidentially, but in relation to the way in which doctors are being interviewed for their opinion," Maharaj said.

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