South Africa's ruling party claims that their photo-op with Mandela was for the benefit of the people.
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) is on the defense after social media sites erupted with criticism over video footage of the party’s visit to the home of Nelson Mandela showed an unsmiling and frail-looking Mandela.
The video aired on South African television and many described the 94-year-old former South African president as looking "visibly frail" and “dazed.” A number of South Africans responded to the images via social media, accusing the ANC of general insensitivity to Mandela’s health and using the aging leader as a prop to boost support for the party ahead of elections next year.
"After everything the man has done for us this is how we treat him. Like an animal at the zoo. Shame on us. #mandela," wrote user Marius van der Walt according to the BBC.
Others responded along racial lines.
"Dear whites plz chill..#Mandela is supposed to look like that..He is 94 ,U are the ones that wasted his time by jailing him for 27 years," tweeted Shibe Serakalala according to the BBC.
ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu responded to the backlash Tuesday, standing by the party’s previous announcement that Mandela’s health was improving.
“The African National Congress stands by its statements that President Mandela is in good health and in good spirits. We welcome the words of appreciation and thanks we have received from many, many South Africans expressing their gratitude that the ANC has shared with them rare and precious moments with President Mandela," a statement read.
Mthembu added that Mandela's appearance is normal given his advanced age, stating that it should be expected that the beloved anti-apartheid icon is "not as active and energetic as we all fondly remember him."
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(Photo: AP Photo/SABC TV)