The ANC was unaware that the family of former statesman Nelson Mandela was unhappy about a publicised visit President Jacob Zuma made to Mandela’s house shortly after he was released from hospital in April, the party said in a statement on Sunday.
ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said comments made by Mandela’s ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela about the visit were regrettable.
“As the ANC we are in contact on a daily basis with the Mandela family and these issues that have been publicly aired by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela have not been raised in any of these occasions,” said Mthembu.
The AFP reported on Sunday that Madikizela-Mandela told Britain’s ITV News television that the visit by Zuma and other ANC delegates was insensitive.
“I honestly cannot put in words how hurt the family was. It was one of the most insensitive things for anyone to have done,” she was quoted as saying.
Zuma said at the time Mandela was “up and about”, a description that was clearly at odds with televised footage that showed the revered ex-leader frail and dazed, sitting frozen in an armchair, said the AFP.
Prior to the visit, Mandela had been out of the public eye for some time.
In excerpts published on the ITV website, Madikizela-Mandela added: “It compromised the family, compromised his dignity and it should have never been done.”
Mthembu said the visit was one of many that the ANC had made to Mandela to continue to show support to him and his family.
“We have to demonstrate [an] active interest in the life of [former] President Mandela who remains our leader and our icon,” said Mthembu.
He said the ANC would continue to pray for Madiba who was in a critical but stable condition at the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria.
Mandela has been in hospital since June 8 and is being treated for a recurring lung infection. – Sapa