We’re not campaigning, Mandela is our own – ANC
The ANC has rejected claims that its prayer sessions outside the hospital where Nelson Mandela is being treated, is part of its election campaign.
ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu this afternoon told the media outside the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria that those who viewed the prayers as campaigns were mistaken.
“We have not forced ourselves into Madiba’s hospital ward. Madiba himself said that he will always remain a member of the ANC,” said Mthembu, dressed in a Madiba T-shirt.
Mthembu was accompanied by the Free State ANC provincial executive committee (PEC), led by Premier Ace Magashule.
The PEC members arrived just before 12pm in two taxis, wearing ANC colours and chanting struggle songs.
They brought candles, flowers, messages of support and sang hymns, wishing the former president a speedy recovery.
“Anyone who wants to see Madiba getting better is welcome to the prayers,” said Mthembu, dismissing claims that the ANC Tshwane region had barred the DA from attending the prayer meeting.
“We are here to say: Madiba, get well. We would never campaign at a hospital. We wish Madiba a speedy recovery and thank some in the media for their reporting, although others have been insensitive to Madiba,” said Mthembu, referring to international media reports about Mandela’s death.
But despite claims by Mthembu that the prayer meeting outside the hospital was not an election campaign, many ANC members who accompanied the entourage shouted: “Viva ANC, Viva Mandela. We will win it for you next year,” in reference to the 2014 general elections.
Mthembu’s comments follows last night’s vigil, which was attended by about 2 000 ANC supporters who arrived in over 30 buses.
Magashule also waded in on the fracas over the electioneering claims.
“Mandela is a product of the struggle. Without the ANC, there would not have been Mandela. He’s our own.
“No one can claim Mandela but the ANC. After today we (the ANC) will give the Mandela family space,” said Magashule, who did not visit Madiba.
Mandela’s eldest daughter, Makaziwe, arrived earlier at the hospital, accompanied by the grandchildren, including Zoleka, Swati, Ndileka, Zondwa and Zaziwe.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi was also seen at the hospital and left about an hour later.
A growing number of well-wishers has been at the hospital.
Mandela’s condition had improved yesterday, according to a statement by the Presidency.
Mandela’s grandson, Mandla, also visited the ailing statesman at the hospital yesterday and later said the family was still hopeful that their grandfather would get better.
Seventeen Mandelas sought an urgent court interdict against Mandla today to force the return of Mandela family remains to Qunu.