Africa

Mandela birthday celebrations planned in South Africa

People gather for Nelson Mandela outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where he is being treated for a lung infection on June 30, 2013 in Pretoria, South Africa.
Image caption President Zuma said South Africans should do "something for humanity" on Mr Mandela's birthday

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma has told the nation to begin planning for Nelson Mandela's birthday on 18 July.

The former president and global statesman, who will turn 95, remains critically ill in hospital in Pretoria.

He was admitted on 8 June with a recurring lung infection.

President Zuma's comments come after Mr Mandela's ex-wife criticised his governing African National Congress (ANC) party for filming the former president at his home in April.

The footage showed Mr Mandela looking dazed and unsmiling during a visit by one of the ANC's leaders to his home.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela told ITV News: "I honestly cannot put in words how hurt the family was and it was one of the most insensitive things for anyone to have done."

Responding to criticism at the time, the ANC defended its filmed visit, saying it was not a "publicity stunt".

On Monday, President Zuma put out a statement reminding "all South Africans to begin planning for Madiba's birthday", using the former leader's clan name.

"We must all be able to do something good for humanity on this day, in tribute to our former president,'' he said.

Mr Mandela is revered for leading the fight against white minority rule in South Africa and then preaching reconciliation despite being imprisoned for 27 years.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and was elected president the following year. He left office in 1999 after a single term.

Mr Mandela retired from public life in 2004 and has rarely been seen at official events since.

He has a long history of lung problems, and was diagnosed with tuberculosis in the 1980s while he was a prisoner on Robben Island.

After his release, Mr Mandela said that the tuberculosis was probably caused by dampness in his prison cell.

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