Speaking at a special prayer meeting in East London organised by the Eastern Cape ANC and the Eastern Cape Council of Churches, ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa, asked South Africans to stop talking about the recuperating Mandela as if he were dead, but instead pray for him.
“Some people are ready to celebrate when he is dead, but we are here to celebrate his life.
“Let us now unite in prayer, wishing him a speedy recovery, and stop being negative about him being sick,” Phosa said.
Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet said Madiba would remain alive and an icon to the whole world.
“The provincial ANC and people of the Eastern Cape would like to wish Mandela a speedy recovery – not forgetting his family at this time,” Kiviet said.
The prayer was led by high-spirited and energetic Eastern Cape Social Development MEC Pemmy Majodina, who got ANC leaders and more than 150 people caught up in the emotional prayer.
But others were disappointed as the venue for the prayer session was changed at the last minute by organisers.
Among provincial leaders who attended, were Health MEC Sicelo Gqobana, Planning and Finance MEC Phumulo Masualle and Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture MEC Xoliswa Tom .
ANC national leaders who attended included defence committee chairman Mnyamezeli Booi , Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel and Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba .
Zuma, meanwhile, was in Ethiopia, hosting a symposium on the ANC‘s centenary in Addis Ababa .
The ANC turns 100 next year, making it the oldest liberation movement on the continent.
Zuma said Mandela had taught the world the importance of unity, forgiveness and reconciliation.
“We wish him a long life and good health, as he continues to age with dignity and inspire all of us to strive to be better people each day,” Zuma said.
“This fearless freedom fighter, like many others who were presidents of the ANC before him, taught us the importance of unity, forgiveness and reconciliation. He taught us to be forward-looking and to use the past as a reference point to ensure that we never go back to racial oppression, hatred and fear of one another as South Africans,” Zuma said.
Mandela, 92, was admitted to Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg last week for a “routine check”.
The Sunday Times reported yesterday that a “turf war” between the Department of Defence and the Nelson Mandela Foundation had been behind a two-day information blackout, which led to wide-ranging speculation by local and international media about the former statesman‘s health.
After reportedly intervening on Thursday, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe called a press conference on Friday, during which he acknowledged the flow of information could have been managed better.
Yesterday, Brigadier-General Zola Dabula, who is part of the team of military medical staff monitoring Mandela‘s progress, said Madiba was doing well.
Mandela‘s grandson, Mandla, was among the first to visit him yesterday.
Earlier, Rivonia treason trialist Andrew Mlangeni arrived.
“He looks bright,” Mlangeni said after almost an hour with Mandela.
“They say he is responding well to treatment and what pleased me the most was that he is able to recognise us,” he said.
“Every now and then he opens his eyes and says ‘hello, hello, hello‘,” a smiling Mlangeni said.
Lead SA‘s Yusuf Abramjee said there had been phenomenal feedback from South Africans across the country.
“People heeded the call to light a candle and pray for Mandela. That says a lot about the South African nation. It showed their love for Madiba. What they did means a lot to Madiba and his family.
Top musician and Shout Foundation founder Danny K said: “Took a quiet moment to light a candle for Tata. We were celebrating his return to health and thanking him for everything he has done for us and just for being him.”
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