After a "difficult last fewdays", South Africa's ailing democracy icon Nelson Mandela is "responding better" to treatment on his fifth day in hospital on wednesday morning and is making progress in his battle against recurrent lung infection, President Jacob Zuma told Parliament.
"I am happy to report that Madiba is responding better to treatment from this morning. We are very happy with the progress that he is now making, following a difficult last few days," Zuma told a budget hearing, using the 94-year-old anti-apartheid icon's clan name.
"We appreciate the messages of support from all over the world. It is an honour for us as South Africans to share Madiba with the international community," Zuma said.
His announcement was greeted with loud cheers from lawmakers, who, like millions of people across the globe, have been anxious over Mandela's latest health scare.
Zuma also paid tribute to the global peace icon on the occasion of the 49th anniversary of Mandela's sentencing to life imprisonment in 1964.
The revered statesman was shifted to Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria in the early hours on Saturday, the fourth time since December he has been admitted.
The President's office had said on Saturday that Mandela was in a "serious but stable condition."
"Since Madiba was admitted to hospital, the family has been deeply touched by the outpour(ing) of prayers and the overwhelming messages of goodwill from all South Africans and the international community," Mandela's grandson Mandla said.
Speaking to the national broadcaster SABC, Zuma last night had said he had been updated by doctors on the health of Mandela, whose health condition was "very serious, but stable".
"I met the team of doctors who are treating him. They gave me a thorough briefing and I was very confident that they know what they are doing. Whilst it's very serious he has stabilised. We need him to be with us and I'm sure he will be with us very soon," Zuma had said.
"We are all praying for him really to recuperate quickly," Zuma said while describing Mandela as "the father of democracy in South Africa".