ANC supporters mass outside Mandela hospital
Hundreds of singing supporters of Nelson Mandela's African National Congress (ANC) massed outside the hospital where the former South African president was in critical condition Thursday, refusing to give up hope that their hero will recover.
Dressed in the green, yellow and black colours of South Africa's ruling party, the well-wishers danced up and down the street singing songs from the liberation struggle.
"We are here to celebrate Tata (father) Madiba because he is still going to live for a very long time," said Nomhlahla Donry, 57, whose husband served time with Mandela on Robben Island.
Madiba is the anti-apartheid hero's clan name.
"There is no sadness here. There is celebration. He is a giant," she told AFP as she clutched a faded photograph of a youthful Mandela surrounded by Algerian freedom fighters while in exile.
Rosina Makgona, 43, called Mandela the "strongest man on the planet".
The supporters were brought in on buses from around the province.
But although some wore t-shirts urging people to "Vote ANC", the party denied the gathering had a political dimension.
"It's organised at a local level," said ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu.
"We fully support if people come to wish him well but you can't come to do electioneering."
The ANC won equal rights for all South Africans 19 years ago and improved the lives of millions.
Mandela co-founded the ANC Youth League, which resisted oppressive regulations with a more militant spirit.
But more recently, corruption scandals, rampant inequality and sluggish economic growth have tainted the image of Africa's oldest liberation movement.
Outside the hospital where Mandela was fighting for his life, Pagiel Msiza, 42, was not giving up hope for South Africa's father of democracy.
"Of course only God can determine when one passes away but just this morning I saw a story about a woman in Mexico getting her school diploma, and she was 100 years old," he said.
© 2013 AFP