Johannesburg: The public broadcast of a video showing South African President and African National Congress (ANC) President Jacob Zuma and other officials visiting ailing anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela at his home in Johannesburg has drawn severe criticism from public.
Social media and talk radio shows have been buzzed with angry comments that the party had been disrespectful by showing footage of Mandela, who is looking vacant, grey-skinned and unsmiling. The footage showed the 94-year-old South African leader sitting next to Zuma with a pillow behind his head and his legs propped up under a blanket.
Party spokesperson Jackson Mthembu, however, defended Zuma saying it didn't make sense to say the South Africa's governing party was using the occasion as an electioneering tool as it gears up for elections next year. He added the party would also have been criticised if it had not broadcast the video.
The footage showed the 94-year-old leader sitting with a pillow behind his head and his legs propped up under a blanket.
After his visit, Zuma in a party statement said "Mandela in good shape and in good spirits". "After receiving a briefing from the medical team, the national officials are satisfied that President Mandela is in good health and is receiving the very best medical care," the statement added.
Mandela spent more than a week in hospital being treated for a recurring lung infection identified as pneumonia - the third health scare in four months for the Nobel Peace Prize laureate. He stepped down as president in 1999 and has not been politically active for about a decade.
But he is still revered at home and abroad for leading the long campaign against apartheid and then championing racial reconciliation. Mandela's lung problems date from his time as a political prisoner when he contracted tuberculosis. He spent 27 years on Robben Island and in other jails for trying to oust the white-minority government.
(With additional information from AP and Reuters)