Thabo Mbeki, who succeeded Nelson Mandela as South Africa's president 14 years ago, says the ailing revered statesmen will pull through.
"I know the doctors who are working with him are very good people, very good doctors and I am quite certain, I am quite certain that, one of these days, Madiba will go back home," Mbeki said over the weekend, calling Mandela by his clan name.
Mandela, 94, is considered the founding father of South Africa's modern democracy. He has been hospitalized in Pretoria since June 8 for a recurring lung infection – a legacy of his years of imprisonment under South Africa's now-defunct apartheid regime.
Mbeki is the second president in South Africa's post-apartheid era ushered in by Mandela. Mbeki served from 1999 to 2008 after Mandela emerged from prison in 1990 and became the nation's first black president four years later. Jacob Zuma currently serves as president.
"What the government has been saying is that his condition is critical but stable is correct. But I think we need to add to that that indeed his health is improving. The medical care that he is receiving is in fact excellent and as I say, I am quite certain that one of these days the doctors will agree that he can go and stay at home rather than in hospital. Certainly that is our hope and our wish, but I think that is what will happen," Mbeki said.
Mandela became an international figure while enduring 27 years in prison for fighting against apartheid, the South Africa's system of racial segregation.
A court document released recently revealed that Mandela's health had declined so sharply on June 26 that his family was considering whether to take him off life support. The next day, however, Zuma announced that Mandela's condition improved from critical to critical but stable.