Mandela health updates difficult - expert

2013-06-10 15:24
Gallery  |  click on thumbnail to view larger image

Media wait outside hospital

See the latest photos as members of the media assemble outside the hospital where Nelson Mandela is believed to be for the third day in a row.

Johannesburg - The media must understand the difficulties the presidency faces in keeping the public informed about former president Nelson Mandela's health, media strategist Chris Vick said on Monday.

"When the presidency issues a statement, every word is analysed for some form of hidden meaning, or compared to the substance of previous statements when Madiba was in hospital," Vick, a former spokesperson for politician Tokyo Sexwale, said.

"Yet, when no statement is issued for some time, the lack of comment is itself analysed for some form of hidden meaning, or compared to previous statements."

It became a vicious circle where government was damned if it did, and damned if it did not.

The presidency announced on Saturday morning that Mandela was in a "serious but stable" condition after being admitted to a Pretoria hospital in the early hours of that morning.

On Monday it issued a statement saying Mandela's condition was "unchanged".

This was the first update in more than 48 hours since the initial announcement on Saturday.

Newspapers speculated on the ailing icon's health on Monday morning amid the silence from the presidency.

Vick said that although the presidency was dealing with a high-profile world leader it also had to respect the privacy and feelings of Mandela's family, as well as the practicalities of the medical team treating him.

"One way the presidency could take the pressure off itself, while keeping the public informed, would be to commit to issuing statements at a particular time of the day... and if there is no update at the time, to just say so.

“That may go some way to easing the clamour for updates, and managing the speculation that develops when no statement is issued for some time," he said.

Media have been camping outside the hospital where Mandela is believed to be admitted and outside his Houghton home in Johannesburg since the news broke.

Hospital stays

Mandela has been in and out of hospital in the past few years.

At the end of March and in April this year he spent nine days in hospital receiving treatment for recurring lung problems.

Earlier in March, he was admitted to a Pretoria hospital for a scheduled check-up and was discharged the following day.

In December last year, Mandela underwent an operation to remove gallstones and treat the recurring lung infection. He was discharged after an 18-day stay and placed under home-based high-care at his Houghton home.

In January, the presidency said Mandela had made a full recovery from the surgery and continued to improve.

In February last year he was admitted to hospital for a stomach ailment.

In January 2011, a virtual void of information marked Mandela's admission to Johannesburg specialist care Milpark Hospital.

With very little information to go on at that time, speculation was rife and reports of his death started running on social networks.

Finally, on 28 January, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and Surgeon General Vejaynand Ramlakan addressed a media briefing on his health.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation, which customarily managed publicity for Mandela, only broke its silence on Monday, 31 January 2011.

This was after then Sunday Independent editor Makhudu Sefara wrote an item called "The making of an unnecessary crisis".

Read more on:    nelson mandela  |  kgalema motlanthe  |  media

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Financial advisors – Do you need one and should you get one?

The good, the bad, and everything else you need to know when considering hiring a financial advisor.


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.