Nelson Mandela hospitalized, in serious condition

Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa and opponent of apartheid, is in serious condition in a hospital in Pretoria. The 94-year-old has been in ill health in recent months:

Mandela has been hospitalized several times in recent months. During a hospital stay that ended April 6, doctors diagnosed him with pneumonia and drained fluid from his chest. Mandela has been particularly vulnerable to respiratory problems since contracting tuberculosis during 27 years as the prisoner of the white racist government. The bulk of that period was spent on Robben Island, off the coast of Cape Town where Mandela and other prisoners spent part of the time toiling in a stone quarry. He was freed in 1990, and then embarked on peacemaking efforts during the tense transition that saw the demise of the apartheid system and his own election as president in 1994.

Associated Press

In an interview last month, the former president’s daughter Makaziwe Mandela discussed her father’s condition:

Nelson Mandela, in the twilight of life, doesn't talk much anymore, his eldest daughter says. She spoke about his health, saying he has "good days and bad days." (Associated Press)

Meanwhile, tensions between the country’s political parties, the ruling African National Congress and the Democratic Alliance, are increasing in advance of next year’s national elections, with protesters throwing human excrement at a party leader last week:

Tuesday’s unsavory salvo did not directly hit Helen Zille, head of the Democratic Alliance who is also the premier of the Western Cape, the only one of nine South African provinces that is not run by the ANC. On Monday, protesters dumped the contents of portable toilets on the steps of the Western Cape legislature in a backlash against the sanitation policy of Zille’s administration, which, in the absence of sewage facilities in some poor and crowded townships, offers portable flush toilets to shack dwellers at no cost. The harshest critics of Zille — whom she dismisses as political grandstanders — say this policy smacks of apartheid, the system under which the best resources were reserved for the minority whites and blacks were confined to areas with inferior services. Politicians on both sides of the political divide say they are still dealing with the legacy of “apartheid geography,” though critics say official incompetence is also slowing progress. . .

Associated Press

Hear more about Mandela’s hospitalization from Debora Patta of CBS:

South Africa's government says former President Nelson Mandela is in serious but stable condition. The 94-year-old Mandela is battling a recurring lung infection.
Max Ehrenfreund is a blogger on the Financial desk and writes for Know More and Wonkblog.
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