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Obama will not visit sick Mandela

Sapa

US President Barack Obama's South African schedule does not include a visit to former president Nelson Mandela, who is critically ill in hospital.

Barack and Michelle Obama. (AFP)

Obama will take part in bilateral talks, preside over a Young African Leaders initiative meeting and visit Robben Island, where Mandela was imprisoned, according to an outline of his planned activities released by the international relations and co-operation department on Tuesday.

He arrives in Johannesburg on Friday and will visit Soweto on Saturday. He will also visit various sites in Cape Town, and deliver an address at the University of Cape Town.

"President Obama would have loved to see Madiba," International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told reporters in Pretoria.

"In my country, at my age and your age, when people are ill-disposed, we try to give them space to recover," she said of Mandela, who is in a critical condition in the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria.

If Obama had the time, he might visit Nelson Mandela Foundation representatives, said Nkoana-Mashabane.

She said life could not stop because Mandela was sick. "He would be very disappointed if he hears that life has stopped in South Africa [because he is ill]."

She said Mandela was a fighter and everyone continued to pray for him and wish him well.

Strategic visit
The White House announced Obama and US First Lady Michelle Obama would be visiting South Africa as well as Senegal and Tanzania in order to "reinforce the importance that the United States places on [its] deep and growing ties with countries in sub-Saharan Africa".

It said the tour would focus on expanding economic growth, investment and trade with the US.

The Washington Post reported that plans for Obama to go on safari with his family in Tanzania had been cancelled, due to budgetary concerns including his counter-assault team having to carry powerful rifles that could neutalise dangerous animals.

Remember Madiba's birthday
Government stated on Tuesday that Mandela's condition remains unchanged in hospital and doctors continue to do their best to ensure his recovery, well-being and comfort.

President Zuma thanked the South African public for ongoing support and understanding.

“We must support him and support his family. We must demonstrate our love and appreciation for his leadership during the struggle for liberation and in our first few years of freedom and democracy by living out his legacy and promoting unity, non-racialism, non-sexism and prosperity in our country”, said Zuma. 

Zuma urged South Africans to remember that Mandela turns 95 on the 18th of July, and that the public should remember International Mandela Day, which calls on each individual to do 67 minutes of good for humanity.

"Let us make it the biggest Mandela Day ever on the 18th of July, focusing on doing good all over the country'', said Zuma. – Sapa

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