South Africa ready to let go of Nelson Mandela, battles Lung Infection again

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CAPE TOWN  (AFP) – Nelson Mandela’s lengthy absence from the spotlight has forced his adoring country to envisage what their hard-won and often fraught multi-racial democracy means without the man who forged it.

The beloved and frail 94-year-old, who is back in hospital with a lung infection, still embodies for most South Africans the “Rainbow Nation” he strived for despite endless persecution at the hands of white apartheid rulers.

However having stepped out of the public eye nearly a decade ago, during which South Africa has battled turbulent political crises and scandals, analysts say Mandela’s influence has waned.

“The bottom line is that Mr Mandela has not been at the moral and political centre of South Africa for a very long time,” political commentator Eusebius McKaiser said of the former president last seen in public in 2010.

“We have let go of him ages ago.”

His hospitalisation has triggered an outpouring of wishes for his recovery.

The office of President Jacob Zuma says the 94-year-old remains in a serious but stable condition.

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